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Farmer sets local record for hybrid rice production
FERNANDO Gabuyo must have had good reasons for abandoning his career in marine engineering and shifting to rice farming in the early sixties.

This is because, 40 years hence, the rice farmer from Nueva Ecija has set the record for having the highest rice harvest per hectare in the country by using hybrid rice varieties.

Ever since genetically modified rice varieties have been introduced, Gabuyo, 57, is the first Filipino farmer to breach the 300-cavan a hectare record in the country.

One of the contestants in a program sponsored by the Nueva Ecija provincial government and SL Agritech Corp., a hybrid rice seed producer, Gabuyo harvested 339 cavans from his rice field, after he used SL 8H seeds, above the national average of 334 cavans for every hectare.

Meanwhile, using Bigante, another hybrid rice seed produced by Bayer CropScience, Gabuyo also harvested 346 cavans from a one-hectare lot, topping the national average of 330 cavans a hectare.

Based on current records, the world’s highest yield is 17.7 tons for every hectare, or 354 cavans a hectare set by a Chinese farmer, using a newly-developed non­com­mercial super hybrid rice variety. The second is an Australian farmer from Australia with highest yield average of 336 cavans for every hectare.

However, Gabuyo’s record-breaking agricultural achievements did not come cheaply.

By investing more than P45,000 in inputs a hectare, he reaped P143,000 for the same lot size, a feat poor farmers would be unable to replicate.

“With enough money and by following the technology recommended for hybrid rice farming, a farmer could earn an income almost triple, compared with planting the best certified inbred rice varieties,” Gabuyo said.

At the initial stage of farming, Gabuyo sprayed a microorganism activator solution in his newly-plowed field, using a 20 liter can of water and adding 100 grams of brown sugar to enhance organisms in the soil.

The enhancer induced rapid decomposition of organic matters in the field, changing the texture of the soil and making it soft. The hays and rice stubbles became the ready organic fertilizer at a lesser cost, he said.

He then applied a hormone-plant vitamin formula, a solution being used by orchid growers, to the seedbed 13 days after sowing.

To further increase the nutrients in the soil, he added five bags of complete fertilizer, two bags of urea and one kilo of basal fertilizer, which acts as soil ameliorant to enhance fertilizer absorption.

The plant hormone vitamin application was programmed for successive spraying.

During the last application, the hormone vitamin was mixed with two kilos of potassium sulphate at a rate of one liter for every hectare to ensure full grain formation, Gabuyo said.

He said his high palay yield is attributed to the use of hybrid rice varieties and application of appropriate plant and soil ameliorants, which maximize the yield potential of hybrids.

Hybrid rice varieties are F1 generation of superior parent lines of rice that out-yield conventional certified inbred rice varieties.

Frisco Malabanan, the program director of the Department of Agriculture’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program, said the national average for hybrid rice yield is at 6 tons a hectare, with 30-percent to 40-percent higher yield than the best inbred varieties.

Crossing superior strains of hybrid rice seeds results in a phenomenon called heterosis or seedling vigor that enables rice plants to develop more root system that improves nutrient absorption from the soil and thus resulting in more grains.

Gabuyo has started joining contests in Nueva Ecija in 2003, when the provincial government, the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Rice Research Institute launched the “Hybrid Rice Taas Ani at Kita,” a program aimed at encouraging farmers to adopt hybrid rice technology.

After harvesting 247 cavans a hectare using Bigante hybrid rice, he placed second in 2003.

Again, in a contest during the dry season of 2003-04, he harvested 260 cavans a hectare, again by planting Bigante. But he was defeated by a farmer in Davao del Sur, who got 290 cavans a hectare using the same variety.

Serafin Santos, Nueva Ecija’s provincial agriculturist, said that hybrid rice technology is the only possible way for farmers to raise their incomes.

“You’ll observe that the National Food Authority only increased its buying price after several years, making farmgate prices of palay pegged at low levels even as farm inputs have shot up uncontrollably. By planting hybrid rice varieties, farmers could earn more, which could eventually uplift their economic status,” he said.

However, farmers still face many obstacles.

For instance, ordinary farmers, who till one-half to one-hectare farm, usually do not have the capital to venture in cultivating hybrid seeds.

“The DA’s remedy is to break the tie between farmers and rice traders that lend money to farmers at high interest. This could be done by channeling financial support to farmers to small millers and traders who are willing to help the government in lending money at lesser interest rate,” Malabanan said.

Seeing the potential of hybrid rice technology, some local governments and cooperatives have also begun carrying out program to assist farmers in cultivating hybrids, Malabanan said.

“If more and more farmers could attain the same success such as what was achieved by Gabuyo, and with enough allocation from the government for our program, we would no longer import rice by 2007,” he added.
MGR Archive 5.6.2005
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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