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Nueva Ecija tiller sets hybrid rice yield record

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija, Philippines – Innovation in application of fertilizer makes a Novo Ecijano farmer a record maker in hybrid rice yield. 

The 51-year old Edgardo “Jose” Marcelo from Brgy. Guimba, Nueva Ecija, harvested 16.63 metric tons (MT) per hectare in the last harvest season, the highest reported yield, after mixing organic fertilizer with inorganic fertilizer on hybrid SL-8H.

Marcelo’s yield in the last dry season was 308 cavans from his 1.3 hectare farm. This effectively hit 297 cavans per hectare as bagging was at more than 60 kilos per cavan. 

He earned P182,624 from his farm out of a gross income of P225,514. 

“My usual practice is to fertilize my farm with 10 bags of organic fertilizer (mainly chicken dung),” he said. 

Marcelo realized the potential of this high yield in hybrid rice as he also experienced high yield from inbreds when he first applied 10 bags of organic fertilizer on his inbred rice plants.  

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“I first applied 10 bags during the wet season, but I used inbred. I harvested 216 cavans. So, I also applied it on my hybrid rice. My program now is to demonstrate the use of SL-12 (hybrid seeds) this wet season,” Marcelo said. 

Many more farmers should be encouraged to venture into hybrid rice – mixed with their traditional but superior farming practices – in order to experience improved levels of living, said SL Agritech chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong. 

“As an entrepreneur, farmers should take risks. You should take your chance in hybrid seed even in the wet season because harvest is still high even if it is not as high as compared to the dry season,” said Lim.      

The importance of using high yielding varieties also intensifies in light of calamities brought about by climate change, Lim said, such as the severe drought caused by El Nino phenomenon that brought suffering to many farmers in Mindanao last dry season.

Marcelo’s success in hybrid rice was also made possible through some assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA). 

His seed was subsidized at only P2,300 per bag, a 50 percent discount from the market price of P4,600 per bag. 

The cost of his organic fertilizer stood at P2,200 (10 bags at P22 per bag). 

Cost of other conventional fertilizers was higher – P6,480 (six bags at P1,080 each), P6,860 (seven bags for P980 each), and P1,550 per bag. 

His other costs included land preparation, P3,150, crop establishment P5,800, pest management (P3,190), and harvest and post harvest (P3,080). 

As a farmer of 25 years, Marcelo is familiar with the challenges faced by an ordinary Filipino farmer. 

But he has been able to surpass these after trying his hand on hybrid seeds. 

Marcelo started using SLAC’s signature variety, SL-8H, in 2010. Since then, he reported an exponential increase in his palay harvest from a measly 150 cavans per hectare (54 kilograms per cavan) to a record high of 308 cavans per hectare in 2016. 

“I started using SL-8H during the dry season of 2010. Before using that, I’ve only harvested 150 cavans,” Marcelo said. 

He said the variety proved to be promising with a 32.5 percent increase in harvest to 212 cavans per hectare at that time. 

“Due to increased yield, I’ve used since then SL-8H during dry season,” he said. The farmer then continued to reap bigger harvests year after year. 

After six years of using hybrid seeds, Marcelo has become a record holder with the highest palay harvest for dry season 2016 at 308 cavans per hectare. 

He revealed that the 10 bags of organic fertilizer he invested in this season made a lot of difference. 

With this feat, Marcelo has been labeled by his peers and the DA as an outstanding rice farmer in the country. 

He also disclosed that the use of SL-8H was able to change his life and his family. 

He first noted the substantial increase in his income since he used this variety. For dry season 2016 alone, he earned P182,624.05. 

Marcelo said he was able to save money for his land, his house and his children’s education from the money he earned from planting SL-8H. 

The Marcelo family was also able to buy appliances and fix their house in Nueva Ecija with the money they saved. 

“Once I’ve harvested during dry season, I set aside part of my earnings for the tuition fee of my children. Now, one of my children finished his studies in one private school with the nursing course. We are no longer thinking about the tuition fee of the two others because it is already fully paid,” he added. 

His success served as an inspiration for his fellow farmers to plant hybrid rice seeds, as well. 

Meanwhile, Marcelo  urged the government to continue offering seed subsidies to farmers

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