The Department of Agriculture is tapping state universities and colleges (SUC) to serve as production sites of quality rice seeds.
In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said such partnership with the SUCs, particularly those with idle lands suitable for rice production, will complement efforts of research stations of the DA regional offices and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the production of registered seeds of inbred varieties for distribution and sale to farmers.
“The SUCs have idle areas suitable for rice cultivation, including enough manpower and technical know-how, which could contribute to our rice sufficiency efforts. We want to tap their potential,” Alcala said.
He said that the agriculture department through PhilRice will provide the SUCs parental or breeder seeds for propagation, which would in turn, produce registered seeds.
Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, who also serves as the DA national rice program coordinator, said that the department will provide SUCs an initial P50,000 each hectare that includes cost of parental seeds and training of technical staff in rice seed production.
The DA-SUC rice seed production program will entail SUCs to allot at least two hectares and up to a maximum of 10 hectares, depending on the available land that would be developed, Delima said.
“The SUCs will also be tasked to train farmers in their respective areas to plant registered seeds that would in turn yield certified seeds,” he added.
Delima said that SUCs could also tap accredited farmers’ cooperatives and Irrigators’ Associations that are engaged in the production of certified inbred rice seeds. They could distribute or sell the registered seeds to farmers under a profit-sharing scheme.
“In all, the DA aims to encourage more farmers to plant high quality seeds [HQS] that include good inbred seeds, certified inbreds and hybrids,” Delima said, noting that certified inbred rice varieties produce an average of at least five metric tons per hectare versus the national average yield of 3.8 metric tons per hectare, while hybrids produce an average of about 6.5 metric tons per hectare.
He said the current utilization of HQS totals 51 percent, which the department wants to increase to at least 68 percent in the next three years, broken down as: hybrids (6 percent), certified or inbreds (36 percent) and good seeds (26 percent).
Only five regions have high average HQS utilization, ranging from 66 percent to 94 percent. These are Central Luzon (with 94 percent), Ilocos (73 percent), Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (73 percent), Cagayan Valley (70 percent) and Southern Mindanao (66 percent).
“Other regions can further increase their respective harvests, by one to two more metric per hectare by planting HQS, coupled with balanced nutrient-fertilizer application, sufficient water supply and effective pest management,” Delima said.