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Hybrid rice farmers likely to continue despite end of subsidy, study shows
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija — Farmers across the country will continue to plant hybrid rice despite the expected termination of the government’s seed subsidy, a PhilRice study shows.

According to the study, which was conducted by PhilRice’s Socio-economics Division early this year, 61 percent of the farmers surveyed will still plant hybrid rice even without the subsidy. Farmer-respondents were selected from the five major hybrid rice-producing provinces, namely, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Iloilo, Davao del Sur, and Davao del Norte.

The study shows that the termination of the government seed subsidy will not discourage farmers from planting hybrid rice because they have already proven its high yielding performance. Farmers said hybrid rice, which can yield as much as 12 t/ha, is profitable and has good eating quality and milling recovery. Some of the respondents (49 percent), however, stopped planting hybrid rice owing to high cost of seeds. A bag (20 kg) of hybrid rice seeds developed by public institutions costs P2,400 while the same volume of certified seeds costs less than P1,000. The price difference pushed the government to implement a policy on seed subsidy, which entitles farmers to more than 50 percent discount.

The subsidy is being gradually phased out. During the wet and dry seasons in 2005, the government paid P1,300 a bag to cover the total cost of seeds. This year’s wet season until the dry season in 2007, government subsidy is reduced to P1,100 a bag. There will be no more seed subsidy starting 2007 wet season.

Although the seed subsidy will be terminated soon, the policy stated that farmers will continue to receive technical assistance provided by its local government units and agencies.

The production cost of hybrid rice production is higher than that of inbred owing to the additional cost on pulling and transplanting seedlings. The average production cost of hybrid rice producers per season is about P27,000 a hectare. Inbred rice producers, on the other hand, spend about P25,000.

Although hybrid rice production is more expensive, data gathered during the 2003 wet season to 2004 dry season showed a minimum profit advantage of PhP3,000 over inbred rice.

Hybrid rice was launched in the country in 1998 as a national agricultural development strategy to increase the country’s rice production.

Technology demonstration areas nationwide show that hybrid rice varieties yield higher than inbred varieties particularly during the dry season and when proper water management is applied.

Farmers who tried planting hybrid rice say it is grown much like the inbred varieties although it requires greater attention in seed and seedling management.

The technology captivated early adopters as shown in the study of Dr. Leonardo A. Gonzales, senior policy researcher and international consultant, and Flordeliza Bordey, socio-economics researcher at PhilRice.

Their study "Midterm impact assessment of hybrid rice technology in the Philippines" showed that 100,000 hybrid rice growers were benefited from the hybrid rice commercialization program since 2004 wet season.

Meanwhile, the regional directors and provincial and municipal agriculturists of the Department of Agriculture from Visayas and Mindanao have joined hybrid rice farmers in Nueva Ecija in asking President Arroyo to extend the government’s rice seed subsidy program which is set to be phased out by the end of 2007.

Joining rice farmers in Nueva Ecija in their appeal to Malacañang for an extension of the program until such time that the national hybrid rice area will have reached 600,000 hectares, the DA provincial and municipal agriculturists said they are concerned that its abrupt removal will stop the momentum in the country’s propagation of hybrid rice.

They said planting hybrid rice is benefiting not only thousands of farmers nationwide but also the country as well.

"Had it not been for the contribution of hybrid rice to total rice production, our country might have resorted to more rice importation," they said, adding that last year alone, the country imported some P5.3 billion worth of rice, but spent only some P500 to P600 million for the hybrid rice program.

According to a DA official, "the area planted to hybrid rice is only 375 hectares which is less than 10 percent of about 3.9 million hectares of our total rice farms. Ideally, this should be raised to half of the 1.2 million hectares of irrigated land or to hybrid."
MGR Archive 12.11.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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