Hybrid rice pushed for food sufficiency

 image135WITH Philippines being part of the Food Basket Pillar of the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), the planting of hybrid rice is currently being pushed on the islands of Palawan and Mindanao in a bid to attain food sufficiency, not only in the Philippines but also for the Asean sub-region.

Dr. Frisco M. Malabanan, senior technical consultant of SL Agritech Corp. (Slac), during his Status Report on the Hybrid Rice Planting in the Philippine-Eaga (P-Eaga), during the 2nd BIMP-Eaga Agribusiness Cluster Meeting at Grand Regal Hotel last month, said the hybrid rice planting program is a private-public partnership (PPP) between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and private seed companies headed by Slac.

Of the private seed companies, Slac is leading the hybrid rice planting in the P-Eaga areas, which includes Palawan and the whole of Mindanao.

“Currently, Mindanao and Palawan do not have a large area planted for hybrid rice. In the Philippines, the concentration of hybrid rice is in Luzon. With this program, the private companies are focusing their attention to expand in the P-Eaga region,” Malabanan said.

According to the DA Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, for the first semester of this year, the total area of hybrid rice plantations in the P-Eaga region is at 11,798 hectares (has.).

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm) has the largest hybrid rice plantation at 4,551 has. It is followed by Davao Region (2,360 has.), Zamboanga Peninsula (2,020 has.), Northern Mindanao (1,333 has.), Caraga Region (724 has.), Palawan (580 has.), and Soccsksargen (230 has.).

Malabanan said they will expand the plantation areas of the hybrid rice this year in Palawan and Mindanao through the DA National Rice Program.

“The different hybrid rice companies recently was met by the National Rice Program coordinator of DA and we are happy that the national government is focusing on the utilization of this (hybrid rice) technology, [which] they call as the High Yield Technology Adaptation (HYTA) Project,” said Malabanan, adding that they have already been given a target for the project.

Expansion of the hybrid rice production will be the focus of HYTA starting 2014-2015 dry season cropping up to 2015-2016 dry season cropping.

For the 2014-2015 dry season cropping, 1,454 has. have been targeted for Palawan, 4,186 has. for Zamboanga Peninsula, 2,000 has. for Northern Mindanao, 5,678 has. for Davao Region, 4,200 has. for Socsksargen, 1,493 has. for Caraga, and 4,556 has. for Armm.

For the 2015 wet season and 2015-2016 dry season cropping, 2,456 has. have been targeted for Palawan, 8,372 has. for Zamboanga Peninsula, 4,000 has. for Northern Mindanao, 11,356 has. for Davao Region, 2,500 has. for Socsksargen, 2,986 has. for Caraga, and 9,112 has. for Armm.

One of the known rice hybrids Slac is using is the SL-7H, which has a yield potential of 7 to 8 tons per hectare, has a plant height of 85 to 90 centimeters (cm), 18 to 22 tillers per plant, has an erect and green leaf style, 200 to 320 spikelets per panicle, 85% of it is filled with grains, and is tolerant to major disease and insect pest that are present in the country.

Another is the SL-9H, which has a yield potential of 9 to 12 tons per hectare, has a plant height of 90 to 105 cm, 18 to 25 tillers per plant, has an erect and green leaf style, 250 to 420 spikelets per panicle, 85% of it is filled with grains, and is tolerant to major disease and insect pest that are present in the country.

Other known rice hybrids that Slac is currently using are SL-8H, SL-18H, and SL-12H. The hybrid rice are also known for their high yield, tolerance to diseases, and adaptability to the Philippine climate.

Malabanan said they have observed that those who utilize hybrid rice have a higher yield as compared to those who use inbred rice.

Data he presented showed that “the average yield of Slac hybrid rice variety was 6.6 metric tons per hectare in the P-Eaga compared to only 4.4 metric tons per hectare for inbreds. This data showed a 50 % yield advantage of hybrid rice compared to inbreds.”

“Looking at this performance, if we can really expand on the hybrid rice [plantations], particularly in the irrigated areas. I think there is no reason why we cannot attain the rice self sufficiency, particularly in the P-Eaga,” Malabanan said.

He also said with the planting of hybrid rice, this will give local farmers a competitive edge in light of the upcoming Asean Economic Community 2015.

“We are aware that 2015 is the Asean Integration. Based on our experience, I think the national government should give its full support to the utilization of the hybrid rice technology for us to further boost the competitive edge of the Filipino farmers as far as rice production is concerned,” Malabanan said.

He said they are eyeing to replicate this in other BIMP-Eaga nations since there have been interest shown by other BIMP-Eaga farmers like those in Malaysia.

Read more: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/business/2014/11/16/hybrid-rice-pushed-food-sufficiency-376867

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