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Hybrid-rice production up to 14.5MMT in 2004
ABC-CBN NEWS
Production of hybrid rice went up to 14.5 million metric tons (MMT) last year, higher than the 13.5 MMT registered the previous crop year, making agriculture officials confident that it will shoot up this year due to the increased planting area nationwide.

This came despite fears expressed by many farmers that the government has some hidden agenda behind the high-profile campaign for extensive hybrid-rice production.

Hybrid rice, whose technology was brought into the country in 2003 by Chinese rice experts, contributed some 1 MMT in the country’s overall palay production.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap cited in a report that at 65-percent standard-milling recovery, which is equivalent to 650,000 metric tons (MT), the reported increased hybrid-rice yield is enough to supply the country’s daily requirement of the staple food for about 23 days.

The country’s more than 80 million population consumes 28,000 MT of rice daily.

Palay subsector is also one of the major growth indicator in agriculture last year, contributing 16 percent to the country’s total agricultural output. The increase made it possible for the agriculture sector to post a 5.4-percent growth in year 2004.

This hybrid-rice production increase came even in the middle of apprehensions from among farmers who had not tried planting this government-recommended crop. Their fears ranged from expensive production cost, meticulous planting practice and low-milling recovery.

The farmers also suspected that there are some agenda attached in the agreement between the Philippine and Chinese governments in hybrid-rice production.

Yap, however, dispelled the farmers’ suspicions and fears in a recent launching of the Ginintuang Maunlad na Agrikultura (GMA). He told farmers that hybrid-rice varieties use the same quantity of fertilizer being applied to inbred and home-saved seeds.

Supporting Yap’s argument, Frisco Malabanan, GMA rice-program director, said that “while hybrid seeds cost more than inbred, this is being compensated by the fact that the farmers need less seeds per hectare than the inbred variety.”

He added, that for home-saved seeds the farmers usually use some two to three bags to plant a hectare of rice farm, that is 40 kilograms (kg) a hectare for inbred and 20 kg per hectare for hybrid.

“In inbred, farmers need two to three seedlings per hill, in hybrid they need only one seedling,” he said.

From the 230,000 hectares planted to hybrid rice in crop year 2004, the area planted this year had been increased to 500,000 hectares. Similarly, from 95-percent sufficiency in rice achieved last year, a higher 97-percent rice sufficiency is being targeted for the current crop year.
MGR Archive 7.2.2005
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