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Farmers turning to 'hybrid rice' for more cash
Hybrid rice varieties are now planted in more farmlands throughout the country since the Department of Agriculture launched the Hybrid Rice Commercialization Program in 2001, according to an official of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PHILRICE).

In the weekly news forum Kapihan sa Sulo held Saturday morning, PHILRICE executive director Leocadio S. Sebastian said that hybrid rice is now planted in 120,000 hectares of farmland nationwide, compared to only 7,000 hectares in the late 1990s.

He added that recent studies show that farming hybrid rice produce higher yields compared to planting inbred rice varieties.

Sebastian explained that a hybrid rice variety is a product of crossing two rice plants with superior qualities, through traditional and artificial means. They produce long roots and broad leaves that enable them to take up more nutrients and thus, produce more grains. These factors, he said, result in higher yields than ordinary rice, which are also called “inbreds.” Inbred rice varieties are those seen in farmlands today, including more than 80 modern and traditional varieties.

Carlos Saplala of Bayer CropScience Inc., a major producer and supplier of hybrid rice, said that hybrid rice varieties not only produce higher farming yields, but also better grain quality than most inbred varieties.

Farmers, he said, generate higher net profits when they plant hybrid rice, according to reports from the field.

Sebastian stated that the full commercialization of the hybrid rice and its patronage from a larger number of farmers could contribute in increasing the country’s self-sufficiency in terms of rice supply.

“There is a huge potential of increasing rice production through this new technology,” Sebastian noted.

Sebastian’s statements were echoed by Leonardo A. Gonzales of the Society Towards Reinforcing Inherent Viability for Enrichment (STRIVE) Foundation, saying that new technologies in agriculture such as these could address some of the food security issues in the country today.

STRIVE Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit organization doing research on national policies for the agriculture sector and the agribusiness industry.

Gonzales, who has written about 180 technical articles relating to agricultural policies, said that technology for inbred rice varieties has stagnated or has reach a “plateau.”

“So it is important for the government to look at new technologies such as the hybrid rice program,” he said.

Sebastian said that the government targets around 500,000 to 600,000 hectares of farmland that would be planted hybrid rice varieties. Currently, he said, hybrid rice is being sold in small quantities in the market with brand names like “Mestizo” and “Matador.”
MGR Archive 10.10.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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