Monday, May 29, 2017

Bulacan farmers inch closer to rice self-sufficiency

The Duterte administration’s goal of hitting 100 percent rice self-sufficiency level in two years, to push the Philippines to reclaim its status as rice exporter, is now a step closer to attainment.

A recent partnership among the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office No. 3 (DOST III), the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technologies (PhilSCAT), the Local Government of Pulilan (Pulilan LGU) and the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit No. 3 (DA RFU III) just might have proven that such a target could be realized.

The team believes that achieving higher rice yields is possible given the correct seed variety and quality, proper plant spacing, correct fertilizer timing and rates, and appropriate irrigation application.  That is the reason why the farmers who participated in a recent project were convinced to migrate from direct/broadcast seeding to mechanized transplanting; from using the usual inbred seeds to hybrid rice seeds, and from their old practice of applying four to six bags of fertilizer to the more intensive eight to 10 bags of fertilizer per hectare.

Under the umbrella of the DOST- Community Empowerment through Science and Technology project “Effective Translation of Science and Technology Intervention for Agricultural Productivity: The Case of Rice and Mango in Pulilan, Bulacan”, PhilSCAT director  Emmanuel Sicat who provided technical services, requested for hybrid rice seeds from DA RFU III Andrew Villacorta last year.

PhilSCAT immediately deployed its technical team led by  Carlos Abon and conducted trainings on seedbed preparation using double mulching technique in December last year, and use of mechanized transplanter in January this year.

The carageenan plant growth promoter developed by Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, both of the DOST, was likewise sprayed at 14, 28 and 42 days after transplanting.

The 25 Pulilan farmers-participants in this endeavor were closely guided and monitored by the joint DOST-PhilSCAT team. 

Last April 18,  the farmers witnessed the combined harvester  churn out 177 cavans of Mestiso 78 palay (also known as Long Ping 937) at 70 kg per cavan from the 1.25-hectare farm of Lito Calderon.

The harvest reached 12.39 tons or 9.9 tons per hectare.  This year’s harvest is almost double compared with last year’s harvest of 6.597 tons of PSB Rc 218.

Meanwhile, Ponciano Mendoza harvested 140 cavans of SL8-H at 55 kg per cavan from his 7,500 square meter farm.  This is equivalent to 10.27 tons (or 205 cavans) per hectare which,  according to him, is almost double compared with his harvest last year of 80 cavans.

Rosalina de Guzman, also a farmer-participant, said: “ Because of the carageenan plant growth promoter, I actually had a very abundant harvest and I was able to save from fertilizer costs.

The initiative was spurred by the personal experience of Sicat himself, an agricultural engineer and a rice farmer, who was inspired by his harvest of at least 200 cavans per hectare in his rice fields at the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija in the 2015 and 2016 dry seasons.

After his abundant harvest, he was challenged by Mayor Montejo to help the Pulilan rice farmers achieve the same successful harvest.


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The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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