AREAS PLANTED to hybrid rice are expected to outperform other varieties by a wide margin, with observed yields so far of as much as 12 tons per hectare (t/ha), the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a memorandum circular that the DA will focus its efforts on 15 provinces selected for hybrid rice planting, with an expected yield advantage of at least 1 ton per hectare against the traditional inbred seed varieties.

“Many areas cannot attain the desired yield advantage and optimum yield because of various technical and agro-ecological reasons. Foremost among them is the limited technical support, improper nutrient management, and insufficient irrigation during the cropping period,” Mr. Dar said.

“The report of the performance of hybrid rice indicated a clear yield advantage over the certified inbred seed varieties with farmers getting yield advantages of up to 5t/ha (hybrid yield of up to 12 t/ha) and provinces having average yields of up to 7 t/ha,” he added.   

Asked to comment, DA Hybrid Rice Program Adviser Frisco M. Malabanan said by mobile phone that the 15 provinces are Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Leyte, Bukidnon, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat. 

“Basically, the circular provides directions on how we can still further optimize the hybrid rice yields in other provinces. As of now, there are still areas that have not attained the potential yield which is at least 6 to 7 t/ha. There are still provinces that are below that, including areas outside the selected 15 provinces such as Apayao and Rizal,” Mr. Malabanan said.

“Among these provinces, the one with the highest yield per hectare during the dry season is Nueva Ecija at an average of 7.8 t/ha followed by Isabela at 6.8t/ha,” he added.

Mr. Dar also directed that the regions be guided in selecting the hybrid rice variety best suited for their respective areas.

He added that data on the municipal and province-level performance of commercial hybrid rice seed should be distributed for the guidance of farmers.  

“In the future, the National Rice Program and Philippine Rice Research Institute should apply the Philippine Rice Information System in monitoring the performance of hybrid rice varieties for more accurate and more objective yield monitoring,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar also ordered the inclusion of technical support in the regional procurement agreements with commercial hybrid companies, together with the requirement that their hybrid variety not fall below the standard of a 1-ton yield advantage over certified inbred seed and five tons of yield overall.

He also instructed seed companies to hire personnel to undertake technical assistance, to submit monitoring reports, and to implement packaging safeguards to prevent reselling or pilfering of seed supplied to DA.

According to Mr. Malabanan, some of the hybrid companies involved include SL Agritech Corp., Bayer, Syngenta Philippines, Inc., and LongPing.

“It is expected that the hybrid rice will contribute significantly to increasing rice production if we can scale the planting of hybrid rice and use it as a means to cluster or consolidate our farms and modernize farming practices,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave