DA issues guidelines for hybrid rice seed distribution

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star
DA issues guidelines for hybrid rice seed distribution
Farmers harvest palay at a rice field in Lingayen, Pangasinan on March 11, 2023.
STAR / Cesar Ramirez

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has issued guidelines to distribute hybrid rice seeds as part of efforts to raise the country’s rice production amid rising input costs and irrigation issues.

DA Undersecretary for rice industry development Leocadio Sebastian signed memorandum order 31 to implement the guidelines for the provision of hybrid rice seeds under the National Rice Program.

The agency said the use of hybrid seeds is seen as one of the important contributors to improving the rice yield, especially in irrigated areas.

“Thus, the National Rice Program (NRP) shall scale the use of hybrid rice seeds nationwide, with consideration of location and climate suitability. This will optimize its impact on national production and rice security while contributing to increasing farmers’ income,” the memo read.

The NRP aims to improve the productivity and income of rice farmers by expanding the distribution and utilization of hybrid rice seeds.

It targets to increase the adoption of hybrid rice seeds up to 40 percent and reach an average hybrid rice yield level of up to six tons per hectare (ton/ha) in the wet season and up to eight ton/ha in the dry season in target areas by 2028.

“To do this, the country’s capacity to produce rice must be improved despite challenges on rising prices of farm inputs, worsening effects of climate change, increasing incidence of insect pests and diseases, insufficient irrigation water, diminishing arable lands due to competing uses, and intensifying global competition, particularly with imported rice,” the agency said.

The DA will focus the hybrid rice seed support in “rice-producing cities/municipalities with good irrigation facilities and favorable rainfed areas preferably with the presence of clustered farmers.” These include irrigator associations or farmer cooperatives and associations.

Last month, the DA announced it is seeking 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2027 through its Masagana Rice Program 2023-2028.

This follows the earlier pronouncement of President Marcos to achieve close to rice self-sufficiency by 2025.

With this, the NRP was instructed to determine specific areas for inbred and hybrid rice production and to formulate strategies for developing newly irrigated areas.

Under the five-year program, the DA aims to stabilize the country’s rice supply to 24.99 million metric tons (MT) to 26.86 million MT.

Last year, palay (unhusked rice) production decreased to 19.76 million metric tons (MT) from the record high of 19.96 million MT in 2021.

The Philippines is seeking full rice self-sufficiency in four years even as the farmers warned of a looming crisis of its staple commodity.

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