- Category: Agri-Commodities
- Published on Monday, 04 March 2013 19:32
- Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor
FIELD reports on higher rice yields have further bolstered the Aquino administration’s campaign to achieve self-sufficiency in the staple, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima said on Monday.
In an interview, Delima said these reports emboldened the Department of Agriculture (DA) to do more in achieving food security. He added that the reported yields, in effect, made little sense the 30-year-old suggestion of the United States Agency for International Development and the National Economic and Development Authority to abolish the National Food Authority (NFA).
The NFA was established in 1972 to ensure adequate rice supply for Filipino consumers.
Delima said rice harvests have started, noting that a bigger picture and more accurate data on rice production will be available by March 15, particularly from regions that had set higher targets for palay (unhusked rice) output.
The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, on the other hand, will issue its report on rice output by April.
“The harvest area for rice has grown to 4.6 million metric tons [MMT], with Central Luzon still leading the list of regions that expanded their production areas,” Delima said.
“There [are] also substantial [gains] in Oriental Mindoro and Leyte [provinces], and the reason for the surprising performance in Leyte is the fact that Ormoc had subsidized hybrid seeds for farmers,” he added.
Also expected to record improved yields for the year are South Cotabato, Nueva Ecija, Isabela and Iloilo provinces.
For 2013 the DA has set 21 MMT of palay as its target figure, Delima said, adding that “the bigger situation will be clearer by the third quarter, when all the figures are in.”
He attributed the increase in palay output to the use of two Philippine hybrid-rice varieties—NSIC 19 and NSIC 20—that the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had developed.
“There are three commercial hybrid varieties in the market, along with the two PhilRice strains that more farmers are using now,” Delima said.
He also said these hybrid varieties are enjoying wider acceptance since these are cheaper than commercial varieties by P1,000 per sack.
Another incentive for farmers to increase rice production is the “plant now, pay later” program, which allows farmers using hybrid-rice varieties to secure loans.
This program, which targets 50,000 hectares, has been implemented in 25,000 hectares, with the DA lending P400 million to farmers.
Farmers cultivating hybrid rice will get as much as P50,000 per hectare, with the limit set at 5 hectares, and the money borrowed carries an interest of 15 percent per annum.
To assure that the output will be bought, Delima said farmers also have a purchase agreement with the NFA as a last-resort buyer.