THE country’s lead science and technology arm and a center for agricultural technologies working in partnership with a local government unit in Bulacan province in Central Luzon have placed the government within sight of their goal to make the Philippines 100 percent self-sufficient in rice.
A recent partnership between the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office 3 (DoST III) and the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technologies (PhilSCAT) working closely with the Pulilan local government and the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 3 (DA RFU III) has made such a target attainable.
The goal is to assure the growing population of a steady supply of the staple and move away from importing rice from the country’s neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Higher yields possible
Members of the team said it is possible to achieve higher rice yields with the correct seed variety and quality, proper plant spacing, correct fertilizer timing and rates and appropriate irrigation application.
Working under the umbrella of the DoST-Community Empowerment through Science and Technology, for the project “Effective Translation of Science and Technology Intervention for Agricultural Productivity: The Case of Rice and Mango in Pulilan, Bulacan,” its proponents requested the grant of hybrid rice seeds last year.
The team then worked with PhilSCAT Director Emmanuel Sicat, who provided technical services and requested the hybrid rice seeds from DA RFU III director Andrew Villacorta.
A technical team led by Carlos Abon conducted trainings on seedbed preparation using double mulching technique in December and facilitated the use of a mechanized transplanter in January.
The carageenan plant growth promoter developed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, was sprayed on the planted rice hybrids 14, 28 and 42 days after transplanting.
The 25 Pulilan farmer-participants were closely monitored by the joint team and witnessed the combined harvester churn out 177 cavans of Mestiso 78 palay (also known as Long Ping 937) at 70 kilograms per cavan from the 1.25-hectare farm of Lito Calderon.
The harvest totalled 12.39 tons or 9.9 tons per hectare.
This year’s harvest is almost double compared to last year’s harvest of 6.597 tons of PSB Rc 218.
Meanwhile, Ponciano Mendoza harvested 140 cavans of SL8-H at 55 kg per cavan from his 7,500-square meter farm.
This is equivalent to 10.27 tons (or 205 cavans) per hectare which, according to him, is almost double compared to his harvest of 80 cavans last year.
Elated, he said, “For the first time, I had a productive harvest. I am so happy that our mayor Maritz Ochoa-Montejo, the PhilSCAT and the DoST worked together to benefit us farmers.”
Rosalina de Guzman, also a farmer-participant, said, “Because of the carageenan plant growth promoter, I actually had a very abundant harvest and I was able to save from fertilizer costs. Producing 200 cavans per hectare is now very possible.”