MANILA—The Department of Agriculture (DA) is intensifying its rice hybridization promotion activities in line to meet its rice self-sufficiency target by 2020.
Secretary Manny F. Piñol said his department will launch a rice derby contest to determine which variety produces more yield per hectare.
He said the contest result will serve as the government’s guide as to what variety to distribute to farmers.
In line with this initiative, the DA has forged partnership with private seed companies to assist in technology transfer.
Piñol also laid other strategies to attain the rice sufficiency goal, including access to credit/loans, access to right marketing, and provision of post-harvest facilities.
The DA has proposed to Congress the enactment of a Quick Credit Facility (QCF) wherein farmers and fishers may avail themselves of a PHP25,000 per hectare financial assistance.
Through the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council, the department has also launched the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program for calamity-stricken farmers and fishers. SURE does not require collateral, has zero interest and is payable in three years.
To give producers access to market, the DA will organize rice farmers into highly-functioning organizations and assist them in setting-up farmer-owned rice outlets in key areas.
Through this strategy, the DA aims to eliminate unnecessary layers in the market system.
The agriculture chief further said the DA has been prioritizing the distribution of useful and efficient post-harvest facilities.
Piñol has been awarding facilities and equipment that will enable farmers to lessen their production and post-harvest losses as he conducted his Biyaheng Bukid tours.
Aside from distributing agriculture machinery, the DA is seeking a PHP20-billion budget next year for the distribution of solar irrigation system, which forms part of the rice expansion program for 2017.
“The department has to irrigate 80,000 hectares every year to be able to feed the growing number of Filipinos,” Piñol said.
An additional 20,000-30,000 hectare expansion program is targeted for 2018.
“All we need is the political will to implement the programs and projects,” he added.