‘Palay’ production seen higher in first half

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Despite the dry spell that hit several major rice producing provinces, the country’s palay (unmilled rice) production is still expected to increase slightly in the first half of the year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday.

DA Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said that palay harvest may increase by 2 percent in January to June 2013, from 7.892 million metric tons a year ago.

“Despite impacts of the El Niño in Regions 2 [Cagayan Valley] and 7 [Central Visayas], we were still able to post minimal increase in our palay production,” Delima said, citing latest assessment from DA regional field units.

The DA official, however, said that because of low water supply in key production areas, the agency was not able to achieve the potential increase in production.

Delima attributed the increase to the use of hybrid rice seeds, which enabled farmers to post higher yield despite longer dry spells.

In May 2013, the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics projected lower palay production in the first half of this year because of movement of cropping to the first quarter, inadequate water supply, intense heat and shifting to other crops.

BAS said that the January to June 2013 palay production may only reach 7.879 million metric tons (MT), or 0.2 percent lower than the 2012 output of 7.892 million MT.

“But because of the reported El Niño phenomenon, farmers were forced to shift cropping earlier in the first quarter of 2013, lowering available harvest area in the second quarter,” the bureau said.

Palay production for January to March 2013 was pegged at 4.17 million MT, surpassing the 2012 output of 3.99 million MT by 4.5 percent. This was brought by the expansion in harvest area to 1.113 million hectares, or 3 percent higher than the 1.080 million hectares in 2012.

Based on standing crop, the April to June 2013 production is forecast at 3.709 million MT, 4.9 percent below the 2012 level of 3.90 million MT. Harvest area may contract by 2.3 percent to 934,000 hectares from 956,000 hectares in 2012. Yield per hectare is also expected to drop by 2.7 percent, from 4.08MT to 3.97MT.

Based on farmers’ planting intentions, the July to September 2013 palay production may be higher than the 2012 level of 3.597 million MT by 0.11 percent. This could be attributed to expansion in harvest area by 1.34 percent.

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