THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) banked on rice farmers using hybrid seeds to recover reduction in yield brought by effects of climate change as well as calamities and pest infestation this year.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said calamities as well as pests and diseases among crops are attributed to climate change.
Masculino said these factors are already affecting the province’s rice production output since this early part of the year thus, there is really a need to increase yield.
Recent heavy rains which triggered flooding in different parts of Negros Occidental have initially caused about P5.1 million worth of damage and production losses to local crop sector, mostly rice.
During the first week of the month, Tropical Storm Agaton left almost P17 million worth of damage to agro-fishery sector.
These figures are on top of possible additional losses to rice production brought by reported grain bug infestation in Pontevedra and La Carlota City, which OPA is still validating.
“Rice farms are highly vulnerable to flooding and pest infestation which can be considered as effects of climate change,” Masculino said, adding that increasing rice production by using hybrid seeds is one priority of the province this year.
In hybrid rice production, the yield is 30 percent higher compared to ordinary seeds.
Hybrid is still more efficient than the yield using certified seeds, which is 10 percent higher than ordinary seeds, Masculino said.
OPA currently has 1,000 15-kilogram bags of available hybrid rice seeds up for distribution to farmers.
These seeds stored at Negros First Rice Processing Center at Barangay Tabunan in Bago City can cover 1,000 hectares of farms.
In terms of ratio, a 15-kilogram bag of hybrid seeds is good for a one-hectare farm.
Masculino had earlier said that a portion of these available seeds will be distributed to some of the 286 farmer-graduates of the School-On-Air Program who signified to plant hybrid after finishing the four-month Hybrid Rice Production and Rice Crop Manager course last week.
“Calamities continue to threaten our rice sufficiency level thus, we push for expansion of rice areas devoted to hybrid,” he added.
At present, there are only 3,000 to 4,000 hectares of hybrid rice farms in Negros Occidental, OPA records showed.
The number is even fluctuating since some farmers are discouraged by higher cost of hybrid seeds.
Masculino said these farmers also have bad experience in hybrid rice production specifically lower harvest, which was mainly a result of lack of supervision.
“Aside from enabling farmers on hybrid rice production and distributing free seeds, OPA will also closely monitor farmer-practitioners to ensure higher productivity,” he added.
In 2017, OPA recorded damage and production losses of up to P90 million to agro-fishery sector of Negros Occidental also due to calamities, pest and diseases.
The OPA is still consolidating the data to determine the province’s total rice production as well as its sufficiency level last year.