PhilRice: Free inbred seeds boosted rice yield

Farmers who received and used the free inbred rice seeds from the government improved yield by 15.7 percent to 4.2 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha), the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said.

PhilRice said its monitoring showed that yields improved steadily to 4.2 MT/ha in the 2022 dry season from 3.63 MT/ha in the 2019 dry season.

“For the wet season, yield increased from 3.69 [MT/ha] in the 2019 wet season to 4.03 [MT/ha] in the 2021 wet season,” the agency attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA) said in a statement on Wednesday.

PhilRice said about 98 percent of the farmer-beneficiaries under the inbred rice seed component of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) planted the seeds within the actual season they received their provision.

“In close coordination with our partner-local government units, we carefully plan the seed delivery schedule in every city and municipality,” said Flordeliza Bordey, head of the DA-PhilRice RCEF Program Management Office.

“This made seed distribution activities timely based on the planting period of various localities.”

PhilRice said it has distributed over 10 million bags of certified inbred seeds to about 1 million farmers from the 42 target provinces under RCEP. About 1.5 million hectares of farms are planted with RCEP inbred seeds annually.

“As of July, 1.57 million bags were distributed to more than 630,000 farmers in 731 cities and municipalities, with an estimated area coverage of 720,000 hectares for 2022 wet cropping season.”

The agency said the adoption rate among RCEP inbred rice seed beneficiaries of the certified seeds rose to 84 percent in the 2021 wet season from 48 percent in the 2019 wet season or prior to the program’s implementation.

PhilRice is the mandated agency to implement the annual P3-billion inbred rice seed component of the P10-billion RCEP, which was created by Republic Act 11203 or the rice trade liberalization law.

The 42 provinces that benefit from the RCEP inbred rice seed program include Ifugao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon in Luzon.

Rice farmers in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Biliran, Samar (Western Samar), Southern Leyte in the Visayas also received inbred rice seeds.

In Mindanao, the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Lanao Del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao were included in the inbred rice seed program.

Fertilizer recommendations

PhilRice said the RCEP-seed program has also started to develop site-specific fertilizer recommendations to help farmers “increase their yield and ensure that their fertilizer inputs are cost-efficient.”

The agency said it assessed the nutrient status of the rice areas using Minus-One Element Technique (MOET), a diagnostic tool for detecting soil nutrient deficiencies in actual field conditions based on the crop growth response.

The results of the tool, PhilRice said, include recommendations on the “right” element, amount, and timing of fertilizer application. The fertilizer recommendation program is being implemented by PhilRice in partnership with th RCEP-Extension Services program.

“Through this, we want to help farmers make more informed decisions in their crops’ nutrient management. With the expensive fertilizer prices and farmers’ existing resources, it is important that they use what is only useful and beneficial for their rice crops,” Bordey said.

“PhilRice studies show that knowing the right element, amount, and timing of fertilizer application can help increase efficiency in input cost and nutrient uptake.”

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