NEGROS OCCIDENTAL STARTS SEED PRODUCTION PROGRAM
Negros Occidental will become the first province in the country to introduce an innovation in rice farming by investing in a provincial government-funded seed production program which would focus only on at most three rice varieties, the Department of Agriculture said.
The program which both Gov. Alfredo Marañon and Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol agreed upon during the latter's recent visit to the province will be called "Balik Binhi" Program where the provincial government will develop a 50-hectare area to produce seeds of three Inbred Varieties developed by PhilRice - RC 222, RC 160 and RC 216.
In its recent board of trustees meeting, the PhilRice approved the program and has committed technical support to the Negros Occidental initiative.
Seeds produced from the provincial seed farm will be distributed to farmers to free, according to Gov. Marañon.
Recipient farmers will in turn be required to "return" two bags of seeds which the provincial government will again distribute to two more farmers who will also be asked to pay back two bags of seeds each.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said the three PhilRice varieties were selected for propagation in the province because of their adaptability.
A PhilRice advisory gave out this information on the three selected varieties:
- Rc 216, also known as Tubigan 17, when transplanted, has a maximum yield of 9.7 t/ha with a maturity of 112 days after sowing (DAS). It is moderately resistant to brown planthoppers (BPH) and green leafhoppers (GLH).
- Rc 160 has a maximum yield of 8.2 t/ha if direct-wet-seeded and matures in 107 DAS. It has intermediate reaction to blast, bacterial leaf blight (BLB) and GLH, and is resistant to stem borer. This variety is also known for its good eating quality because of its low amylose content.
- Rc 222, known as Tubigan 18, that has a maximum yield of 10 t/ha matures in 114 DAS. It is moderately resistant to BPH, GLH, and stem borers.
"The program for Negros Occidental to focus on just three varieties will be the first to be implemented nationwide where farmers plant just about every known variety," Pinol said.
The multiple-variety farming system has proven to be a bane of the Philippine Rice Industry where farm management, including the handling of diseases, has largely been a problem.
The multiple-variety farming system also poses a problem to post-harvest operations where farmers who own small landholdings refuse to dry their palay in mechanical dryers with huge capacity because they have different varieties.
Milling is also a problem because different varieties have different grain sizes and formation.
Pinol said lessons learned from Vietnam showed that the country focused on at least two major varieties which were all high-yielding and early maturing.
The Negros Occidental 3-in-1 Rice Industry Program could serve as the blueprint for other provinces in the future.
Gov. Marañon said this program will be started this coming planting season with the support of PhilRice.