SLAC donates hybrid seeds to Leyte farmers

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The country’s top hybrid rice producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) on Wednesday said it will provide hybrid seeds and technical assistance to farmers affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda to help restore farming sector in Leyte province.

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In a statement, SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong said that an initial 2,000 hectares of rice area in Leyte have been identified by the Department of Agriculture-Region VIII for the company’s “Plant Now, Pay Later” program.

Lim said the farmers may just pay for the seeds upon harvest.

Leyte Provincial Agriculturist Rogelio Portula said that while many organizations have donated rice seeds to Leyte province, there is still a need for more seeds and even for technical assistance on rice farming in order to restore Leyte to its pre-Yolanda condition.

“There are more rice seeds needed especially for farmers that have more than two hectares. We are only giving them free seeds for up to two hectares per farmer so that everybody will benefit,” said Portula.

SLAC Hybrid Rice Specialist Frisco Malabanan said that the aid to farmers will also focus on technology training since Leyte farmers would not have much difficulty with irrigation.

“The ongoing cropping is the wet season in Leyte, so water is not so much a problem,” said Malabanan.

However, Portula said there is a need to clean up some irrigation canals that have been clogged by felled trees, fallen roofings, and other obstructions from the typhoon. Irrigators associations are conducting the repair of these canals.

There are 34,000 hectares of irrigated land in Leyte and 23,000 hectares of rainfed land.

Portula said FAO’s seed donation for inbred rice may reach to 22,000 bags. Even with this donation, there remains to be 35,000 hectares that need seed financing.

“Three days after the typhoon, the seeds that had been stocked for planting were milled because there was nothing to eat,” he added.

The provincial agriculture office has so far obtained some SL-8H and SL-18H seeds that are expected to help double farmers’ rice yield from around four metric tons (MT) per hectare to eight MT per hectare.

SLAC is also looking at entering into Public Private Partnerships in order to beef up support to Leyte.

One organic fertilizer producer, Black Water Dragon Agri Venture, is willing to partner with SLAC on providing a whole package of inputs and technical assistance to farmers, according to Portula.

The hybrid seeds SL-8H which has tolerance to bacterial leaf blight (BLB) and SL-18H that has more intense resistance to the BLB pest are seen to enhance help to farmers in this current wet season in Leyte.

Malabanan said crop insurance should also be provided to Leyte farmers at present since the wet season exposes them to more risks of weather loss.

“Crop insurance is much needed, especially now that it’s very wet,” he added.
Meanwhile, Brent International School Manila has pledged at least P12 million in financial assistance for the reconstruction of school buildings and classrooms in Guiuan, Eastern Samar province.

Brent and the municipality of Guiuan on Tuesday signed the memorandum of agreement for the “Schools for Schools” project to reconstruct and rehabilitate Guian National High School and Lupok Central Elementary School. The project focuses mainly on cement work, roofing, windows and doors, toilet, water pipes, and electrical systems.

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