By Carmelito Q. Francisco

DAVAO CITY — Climate-resilient rice seed is being developed in South Central Mindanao with reduced irrigation requirements for areas that receive limited water apart from rainfall.

The regional office of the Department of Agriculture has partnered with SeedWorks Philippines Inc. in establishing a 60-hectare demonstration farm for the propagation of Tatag Hybrid (TH) 82 rice, which is expected to help farmers reduce their use of inputs, particularly water.

The regional office, headed by Milagros Casis, established the demonstration farm in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat to test the productivity of the variety, which uses Climate Smart Agriculture Technology through dry-seeding. The hope is to help farmers earn more from their rice farms.

DA’s point person for the program, Sheryl Daulo, told BusinessWorld that the department is seeking to expand the project to regular farms depending on the result of the trials.

“We are looking at how we can help farmers in the region increase their incomes, and the seed variety is among those that we are considering,” Ms. Daulo said, adding that the DA is still waiting for the National Food Authority to come up with an agreement with farmers to ensure they have a ready market.

Seedworks, a Philippine crop science company, belongs to the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) Hybrid Rice Development Consortium. Many of the other companies are multinationals.

Remus S. Morandante, SeedWorks vice-president for Sales and Public Affairs, said dry-seeding is optimized for upland rice fields and those at the tail end of the irrigation supply line or those that rely heavily on rainfall.

Mr. Morandante told BusinessWorld that with dry-seeding, these farms which are only planted once a year can be planted twice a year.

“The challenge before was the absence of appropriate rice varieties that could withstand the pressure of dry culture,” he said.