• DA seeks P11B for rice program next year

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    2015 rice output target stays despite El Nino

    THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is asking the national government a bigger budgetary support of around P11 billion next year to sustain growth momentum and increase the climate change adaptation and disaster-impact preparedness of the rice sector.

    Edilberto de Luna, DA assistant secretary for field operations, said the bigger budget intends to increase the scope and magnitudes of several key activities and interventions approved under Tier 1.

    “The DA-National Rice Program is proposing around P11 billion for next year, from P6.6 billion, to address the issues of climate change. The higher budget will also ensure sustainably competitive self-sufficiency in rice production,” de Luna told reporters.

    For Tier 1, the proposal is primarily focused on maintaining or sustaining the 2015 program output levels especially on rice production output of 20.09 million metric tons and yield of 4.09 MT per hectare.

    It also supports strategic longer-term investments for continued growth, including research and development, small-scale irrigation and extension capability-building.

    De Luna, however, said that under the proposed program expansion (Tier 2), the DA-National Rice Program would shift investment focus on several aspects to attain incremental output and growth targets for the domestic rice industry above the 2015 levels.

    Tier 2 also aims to increase the rice sector resilience and adaptation to climate change and to improve the government’s calamity rehabilitation preparedness.

    “Tier 2 proposal is primarily directed in addressing the low competitiveness of the local rice industry and the generally marginal income of rice farmers. Addressing these macro issues has become urgent relative to food security and poverty alleviation in the context of the Asean integration this 2015,” he said.

    Activities and interventions proposed for expansion include the three-pronged Production Support Services, which aim to provide production support to high-yield technology adaptation, high-quality seed assistance to adverse environments, and disaster risk reduction and management.

    “Under high-yield technology adaptation, we can attain an incremental production of about 430,000 MT and yield of 4.09 to 4.15 MT/ha. The incremental output shall provide us the production volume needed to sustain self-sufficiency,” de Luna said.

    Other proposed programs under Tier 2 include the extension of support, education and training services (ESETS); irrigation network services (INS); and agricultural and fishery machinery, equipment and facilities support services (AFMEF).

    Meanwhile, de Luna said they are maintaining the 20 million MT rice production target for this year despite the threat posed by the prolonged dry spell.

    “Why would we revise our targets? It’s just El Nino… and historically, the highest recorded damage caused by the weather phenomenon was around 600,000 MT, which we can easily replace through our intervention programs,” he said.

    De Luna added that only the second quarter output is likely to be affected by movement in the cropping calendar and that they expect the rice sector to bounce back in the second half of the year.

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