DA sees rice self-sufficiency possible by 2019

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AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol once again touted hybrid rice seed as a means of achieving rice self-sufficiency, with this goal possibly achieved as early as 2019.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Piñol said poorer farmers stand to benefit, and reiterated Department of Agriculture (DA) estimates that hybrid seed planting on 30% of the country’s rice land will produce self-sufficiency.

“We’re not just making wild guesses. We base it on scientific data. If only 30% of the farmers adopt hybrid seeds[…] as early as 2019, then we will hit rice self-sufficiency. That’s all that we need,” he added.

Only 10% of rice lands are currently planted to hybrid rice.

The DA is in an ongoing struggle for funding to promote its self-sufficiency agenda, including the purchase of hybrid seed, which is more expensive than regular seed, though economic managers have questioned this policy goal and approved only a fraction of the department’s budget requests.

SL Agritech Corp, a producer of hybrid seed and a DA supplier for its hybridization program, estimated that its seed is planted to 400,000 hectares (ha).

The DA has a P2.5-billion seed budget this year, and if all these purchases are directed to hybrid seed, it would generate the equivalent of an additional 650,000 metric tons.

The DA also hopes Filipino companies will plant hybrid rice seed on land supplied by Papua New Guinea to help supply both countries’ food requirements. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato