A pilot program carried out by rice farmers in Pulilan, Bulacan has successfully demonstrated methods by which the country can achieve rice self-sufficiency, the program’s proponents said.
Under the direction of Department of Science and Technology Regional Office 3 (DOST 3), and with the participation of the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technologies (PhilSCAT), the Local Government of Pulilan, and the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 3 (DA RFU3), the program utilized methods developed by DOST 3 Director Dr. Julius Caesar V. Sicat, who was able to produce 200 cavans per hectare in his rice fields at the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija in the 2015 and 2016 dry seasons.
PhilSCAT provided technical assistance, while DA RFU3 contributed hybrid rice seed. PhilSCAT provided training on seedbed preparation using double mulching technique and use of mechanized transplanters to local farmers in December 2016 and January 2017, while a joint PhilSCAT-DOST 3 team was set up to monitor and advise the farmers during the subsequent growing season.
The conclusion of the joint project team was that higher rice yields are possible with the correct seed variety and quality, proper plant spacing, correct fertilizer timing and rates, and appropriate irrigation application. The Pulilan farmers were thus encouraged to switch from direct/broadcast seeding to mechanized transplanting; increase fertilizer application from 4 to 6 bags of fertilizer to the more intensive 8 to 10 bags of fertilizer per hectare; and use hybrid rice seeds rather than the usual inbred seeds. In addition, the Carageenan Plant Growth Supplement developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute was applied at 14, 28 and 42 days after transplanting.
Harvest results in April were promising, the team said. A 1.25-hectare farm owned by Lito Calderon produced 177 cavans at 70 kilograms each of Mestiso 78 (also known as Long Ping 937) palay, equivalent to 9.9 tons per hectare. Calderon said this was approximately twice last year’s yield of variety PSB Rc218.
Likewise, a 0.75-hectare farm owned by Ponciano Mendoza had a yield of 10.27 tons per hectare of the popular hybrid variety SL8-H, again nearly doubling the previous year’s output.
The DOST-led team said that they expect similar results in subsequent harvests, and suggested that if the methods were applied throughout the country, the so far elusive goal of rice self-sufficiency would be easily achieved.