TALKS between the government of Myanmar and President Rodrigo Duterte during his recent state visit have resulted in an agreement to plant 14,000 hectares of hybrid rice from the Philippines in Myanmar, agricultural producer SL Agritech reported.
During his visit on March 19 and 20, Duterte held talks on food security with Myanmar, who had earlier expressed interest in importing Philippine hybrid rice technology, and entered into an agreement to allow a test planting of 100 hectares in Yangon’s Dagon Township.
The viability of hybrid rice in Myanmar was demonstrated when the test farm yielded 1.5 metric tons of seeds per hectare.
The pilot planting in Myanmar, using seed from SL Agritech, was carried out under a joint venture with the private companies Nine Seas led by Aung Tan Oo, and Water Stone led by Filipino Norberto Ong.
Under the new agreement, SL Agritech will plant its SL-8H hybrid this current planting season in Myanmar on
14,000 hectares. The agreement also will provide for a planting of the two Dona Maria varieties—Jasponica (SL-7H) and Miponica (SL-9H)—in an area to be determined later.
SL Agritech said that the Dona Maria rice would be sold in Myanmar under the same brand name.
SL Agritech president Henry Lim Bon Liong was part of the Philippines’ delegation to Myanmar along with other
private sector representatives.
At a harvest festival in Guimba, Nueva Ecija prior to the trip to Myanmar, Lim said the Duterte administration has strongly supported hybrid rice expansion in the Philippines, which extends to providing assistance to other developing countries to achieve improved rice production through hybrid rice.
Myanmar has set a lofty goal of regaining its place as the world’s biggest rice exporter—which it was in the years prior to World War II. The country has about 17 million hectares of arable land, an area larger than the rice cultivating areas of Thailand and Vietnam, which could be planted with rice, according to data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Expansion of hybrid rice planting in Myanmar will likely be financially supported by Philippine microfinance leader CARD under CARDMyanmar Company Ltd. CARD started operating in Myanmar in light of trade and agriculture developments there, SL Agritech said..
1M hectares in PH
Earlier in March, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that the DA is targeting the planting of an additional one million hectares of hybrid rice in the Philippines in the next three years.
“The Rice TWG (technical working group) targets an additional area of one million hectares to be planted to hybrid rice seeds in the next three years, which theoretically are expected to yield an additional four million metric tons of paddy rice per year,” said Piñol in a March 13 Facebook post.
“With a milling recovery of 65 percent, the added production could yield 2.6-million metric tons of rice which is more than enough to cover the national shortage of 1.8-million metric tons every year,” said Piñol.
Lim said Piñol and Duterte are expected to visit hybrid rice fields this April 5 when the most successful hybrid rice farmers’ cooperative—Nagkakaisang Magsasaka Agricultural Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. (NMAP-MPC) holds its own harvest festival in Tabacao in Nueva Ecija.
NMAP-MPC not only offers credit, but land preparation, milling, warehousing, post harvest, and marketing services to member-farmers in the rice central Nueva Ecija. It supplies 2,000 cavans of rice to UST hospital every 15 days.
Ricardo Buenaventura, NMAP-MPC president, has become a model pioneer in planting hybrid rice as he reaps at least 10 metric tons (MT) per hectare in the dry season from planting hybrid rice SL-8H, more than twice the national average yield of 3.9 MT per hectare.