Following its venture in Papua New Guinea (PNG), hybrid rice producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) is testing the possibility of expanding its palay production to the Pacific islands Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Island and Africa’s Mozambique.
With 30 hectares of land in PNG are already being planted with Philippine-developed SL-8H, SL-18H and SL-12H hybrid rice, SLAC sees the potential expansion through partnership with Australian Calmwind Pty Ltd. (CPL).
“We already signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Calmwind Pty. SL Agritech’s role is to provide the technology not only in PNG, but Samoa, Solomon Island, Fiji and Mozambique where Calmwind has operation,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.
CPL plans to replace sugarcane with rice in its Mozambique plantations.
SLAC Consultant Frisco Malabanan said CPL has 9,000 hectares planted to sugarcane. In PNG, Malabanan said that the 30-hectare farm can expand to 500 to 1,000 hectares through government support.
The National Development Bank of PNG, is financing of CPL’s planting to be self-sufficient in rice. It currently imports all supply 300,000 metric tons per year from Vietnam.
Malabanan also said that PNG looks forward to a high yield from SL-8H using an irrigation system that is not at all very known in the Philippines.
The direct seeding (no transplanting) with overhead sprinklers for irrigation has long been adapted in Australia, where the PNG company’s parent comes from. Such system has brought a very high average rice yield of 10 metric tons (MT) per hectare in Australia which is actually the highest average yield per hectare in the world, according to Malabanan.
The Philippines’ average rice yield is only 3.89 MT per hectare. The country has the natural disadvantage in yield as it has varied land types— uplands, rainfed, and irrigated.
Also, rice planting involves trapping of water in between embankments or dikes. .
Meanwhile, an advantage of rice planting in Australia is climatic—cold nights and warm day times that are good for the crop.