April 03, 2017 ( by Business World )
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said the unmilled rice harvest in the first quarter of 2017 rose more than 5% year on year with hybrid rice seed driving the expansion.
The Department of Agriculture said wider planting of hybrid rice seed led to expanded palay output in the first quarter. -- AFP
Citing data from the Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) which provides the agency seasonal reports on harvests, among others, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that output for unmilled rice, or palay, stood at 4.14 million metric tons (MT) in the three months to March, up 5.34% year on year.
Mr. Piñol added that “for the first time in the history of rice farming,” farmers posted a 4.15 ton yield per hectare, breaking the previous record of 3.9 MT per hectare.
Mr. Piñol attributed the rise to expanded use of hybrid rice seed.
The highest average yield per region of 4.84 metric tons per hectare was recorded in Central Luzon which includes some of the top-rice producing provinces in the country -- Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Aurora, Zambales and Bataan.
“The higher average yield in the Central Luzon area is credited mainly to the increasing number of farmers who are using hybrid rice seed,” Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post published over the weekend.
Mr. Piñol said that the agency “is promoting the nationwide use of Hybrid Rice Seed which have been proven to produce (up to) double the production average of inbred rice seeds.”
The agency’s promotion of hybrid rice seed, along with other interventions such as small-scale irrigation systems, greater mechanization and the availability of easier credit and financing for the farmers, is expected to boost rice production and achieve rice sufficiency by 2020.
“The PRISM satellite-generated data validated my earlier projection based on ocular appreciation that the country will enjoy a bumper harvest this planting season,” Mr. Piñol said.
“I made the projection following the travels I made all over the country over the last few weeks where I saw vast fields of healthy growing rice.”
In last week’s briefing with reporters, Mr. Piñol said that he expects a “bumper harvest” for the first quarter.
However, when asked for figures, he said he could not quantify as his estimates were merely based on “visual appreciation.”
Asked yesterday over the phone on estimates how agricultural growth for the period may look, Mr. Piñol said he is yet unable to give estimates.
The Agriculture secretary earlier expressed hopes for 2% agriculture output growth in the first quarter.
Such a target, if realized, would reverse 2016’s first and fourth quarter declines of 4.53% and 1.11%, respectively, due to the severe El Niño in 2016’s first three months and storms in October-December. -- Janina C. Lim