El Niño-resistant rice pushed for wet season


The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a list of “early maturing” and “drought-tolerant” rice varieties, which are being recommended by Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) breeders in view of the likelihood of the El Niño phenomenon.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Monday said PhilRice recommended the use for this 2014 wet season of such rice varieties, which can be harvested before any possible drought comes.

Alcala added that with the drought-tolerant varieties, rice could still thrive even with limitations in water supply.

El Niño is expected to hit the country starting the last quarter of 2014 and would last until the first quarter of 2015, based on a recent advisory from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Pagasa predicted changes in the normal rainfall pattern, generally resulting in varying degrees of dryness in most parts of the country.

For irrigated lowland, PSB Rc10 (Pagsanjan) is highly recommended.
Farmers may also plant PSB Rc134 (Tubigan 4) and PSB Rc160 (Tubigan 14), Alcala said.

For rainfed lowland, however, farmers may choose from NSIC Rc192 (Sahod Ulan 1), PSB Rc14 (Rio Grande) and PSB Rc68 (Sacobia). These varieties are also known for their drought-tolerant properties, preferable in areas where El Niño is expected to hit hard.

Based on Pagasa’s El Niño vulnerability map for rice, highly vulnerable areas include Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Leyte and some areas in Mindanao.

Alcala said there are also a number of newly released drought-tolerant varieties for rainfed lowland being promoted through participatory varietal selection (PVS).

These varieties are NSIC Rc272 (Sahod Ulan 2), NSIC Rc274 (Sahod Ulan 3), NSIC Rc276 (Sahod Ulan 4), NSIC Rc278 (Sahod Ulan 5), NSIC Rc280 (Sahod Ulan 6), NSIC Rc282 (Sahod Ulan 7), NSIC Rc284 (Sahod Ulan 8), NSIC Rc286 (Sahod Ulan 9), NSIC Rc288 (Sahod Ulan 10), NSIC Rc346 (Sahod Ulan 11) and NSIC Rc348 (Sahod Ulan 12). Some of these varieties are early-maturing and have a maximum yield potential of up to 6.7 tons per hectare.

For upland environment, recommended varieties are PSB Rc80 (Pasig), PSB Rc9 (Apo) and PSB Rc23 (Katihan 1).

In her report, PhilRice breeder Dr. Nenita Desamero said drought-tolerant varieties are recommended in areas that are regularly stressed and lack water supply. But for rainfed areas with enough and fully distributed water from planting to harvesting, irrigated varieties can be used to exploit their high-yield potential.

With all these choices, Desamero reminded the farmers to wisely decide on which varieties to plant.

“They may plant a 10-tonner (high-yielding variety) which may yield only two tons when affected by drought, or a five-tonner (drought-tolerant variety) that may produce three tons even after water stress. It’s up to the farmers if they will take chances,” she explained.

PhilRice, however, is always open and willing to extend support to the farmers in terms of seed availability and distribution, technical support and proper information dissemination.

“PhilRice is ready and united to provide the needed support to mitigate the negative impacts of this extreme climate event [El Nino] on the livelihood of our farmers,” its executive director, Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., said.


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