BAYER Philippines Inc. on Friday officially unveiled an P80-million hybrid seed conditioning line at its facility in Canlubang, Laguna which is expected to increase its local production by 30% this year.

The high capacity seen conditioning line is capable of processing one ton of hybrid rice seeds per hour. It has an annual rated capacity output of 3,000 metric tons (MT).

Bayer CropSciences, Inc. country commercial lead Iiinas Ivan T. Lao said that this is part of the company’s pledge to help the Department of Agriculture reach its rice self-sufficiency and food security goals by 2020.

Mr. Lao estimated that they could get their return of investment from the expansion in three to four years’ time.

The US-based company currently contributes around 30% of the total hybrid rice seed supply in the country.

Bayer’s Head of Seeds for the Crop Science Division Recher Ondap said that with the new conditioning line, their capacity is expected to increase.

Ariel T. Cayanan, DA Undersecretary for Operations and Agri-Fisheries Mechanization and National Project Director for the Philippine Rural Development Project, said that through increased capacity from the private sector, the Philippines may be able to wean itself off rice importation in the near future.

“[Bayer’s new equipment] will increase our domestic seed production to be able to serve more quality seeds and meet the growing demand of the Philippine hybrid rice industry,” he said during the launch.

“With government and private sector partnerships, we look forward to attaining milestones in hybrid rice adaptation in the country, and ultimately achieving rice sufficiency and security by 2020,” he was quoted as saying in a Bayer release.

Amit Trikha, Bayer Head of Seeds (Asia Pacific), said that to ensure the consistent quality of the seeds, the facility has cold storage and ambient storage with a capacity of 450 MT and 1,000 MT respectively, both of which prolong the life expectancy of the seeds to two to three years.

Prior to the seed conditioning line, Bayer had invested in a P30-million breeding program for hybrid rice technology in the country. The company is continuing to research the development of seeds that are more resistant towards diseases.

Bayer currently has five varieties of hybrid rice.

Mr. Trikha said that with further developments in Bayer’s operations in the Philippines, the country is being eyed as the future hub for seed production for Southeast Asia once self-sufficiency is achieved.