P6-M organic farming in Bicol to be implemented

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012


THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said Wednesday that it is carrying out a P6-million upland rice organic farming in Bicol Region, which capitalizes on native varieties' drought tolerance.

It also aims to boost Bicol's contribution to national rice production as the region once accounted for a hefty 20 percent of Philippine rice output, the agency said.

Bicol's upland rice is being developed for its market potential even as some traditional upland rice strains have been reported to "outperform some modern rice varieties," it said.

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Their advantage is in higher grain production and drought tolerance which has become a critical trait amid the prevailing climate change threats.

Upland rice varieties generally have an average yield of only one to two metric tons (MT) per hectare, but these selected Bicol varieties can exceed such yield average.

The DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) identified that a total upland area of 63,699 hectares in Bicol were once completely rice productive in the 1960s. This is based on a report of the International Rice Research Institute.

While the productive upland rice area dropped to 53,480 hectares in the 1970s, all of these lands can be revived now that a climate change program is crucial.

"Our development of upland rice is very timely as these varieties have the potential to withstand higher temperature and less water supply which is what we really need amid the threatening climate change," said BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar.

The project is focused on popularizing upland organic farming specifically in the river basin towns of Baao and Nabua in Camarines Sur.

Profitability target is 20 percent above prevailing income in the covered uplands.

Allocated BAR funding is P4.998 million while a separate counterpart funding of P1 million will be provided by partners. The program covers 2.5 years. (SDR/Sunnex)

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