More efficient PH hybrid rice farming pushed

Asingan, Pangasinan—To achieve the goal of finally making the Philippines a rice sufficient country, the Department of Agriculture has intensified its campaign for the adoption of hybrid rice technology among local farmers.

This was the thrust of the 8th National Rice Technology Forum held here from March 19 to 21.

The campaign aims to convince farmers to plant hybrid rice by showcasing the best farming technologies and practices through the collective effort by the national government (including the Rice Board), local government units, farmers, and the private sector.

The 8th NRTF is set to be the biggest and most comprehensive—this time including collaborative and technological initiatives that were not highlighted in the previous forums.

Underscoring the Ilocano adage “Diak kita, diak pati” (to see is to believe), the 8th NRTF showcased the best farming practices that Filipino farmers can feasibly adopt to increase their efficiency and productivity.

The forum’s techno demo, which served as the focus of the program, demonstrated the effect of various planting approaches—mechanical, manual, and direct seeding—to the yield using top hybrid rice varieties provided by participating agricultural firms.

Just like in past NRTFs, SeedWorks was one of the private-sector participants that aim to help all agriculture stakeholders realize the life-long goal for national rice sufficiency.

With its popular US88 variety, the company intends to convince more farmers to adopt a recommended approach—mechanical farming.

“SeedWorks is supporting recommendations in farm mechanization,” said SeedWorks Philippines President Carlos Saplala. “This is a logical and effective way to significantly trim farming costs especially on labor.” Mechanization in farming pertains to the use of modern agricultural machines to increase productivity without relying on massive labor inputs. Thus, technology can replace numerous and costly farming jobs that are usually carried out by manual and animal labor.

When paired with the use of an ideal hybrid rice variety like US88, mechanized farming can bolster not just productivity but farmers’ profitability as well. Up to 85 farmer-groups participated in the 8th NRTF. The techno demo was the biggest since the forum started in 2013. This time, a total of 37.5 hectares of land, located in Urdaneta and Asingan, was used to demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of hybrid rice varieties planted using various agricultural approaches. Aside from the usual rice derby among hybrid rice varieties from different agri-companies, the DA also introduced a new farming technique using carrageenan (a seaweed extract) that can regulate the growth of rice in fields, leading to higher yield. This technology is in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, which participated in the NRTF for the first time. The three-day agriculture event also tackled the pressing issue of farm financing through credit sources that can support farmers’ associations. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, and the LandBank of the Philippines presented their funding support services for local farmers.

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