THE Department of Agriculture-RFU in Western Visayas will intensify hybrid rice production among compact rice cluster areas this coming wet season to cope with the production losses brought by the long dry spell or El Niño in the region.

Director Larry P. Nacionales said that using hybrid seeds will significantly increase yield per hectare compared to using inbred seeds.

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It must be noted that hybrid rice varieties can produce an average yield of 4.7 metric tons (mt) to 8.0 mt per hectare while inbred rice varieties can only produce 2.3 mt to 4 mt per hectare.

“We are now ensuring the availability of hybrid and certified seeds requirement of Western Visayas as early as of this time for us to be ready to provide our farmers the seeds they need at the onset of the wet season cropping,” Nacionales added.

The DA-RFU has conducted seven hybrid rice compact technology demonstrations to showcase the potential and different hybrid rice varieties to the farmers. These techno-demo farms were situated at Brgy. Bungca, Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; Dumalag, Capiz; Malinao and Tangalan, Aklan and brgy. Capoyuan, Barbaza, Antique. It was observed that farmer-cooperators of these techno-demo farms got an average yield of 5.2 mt per hectare.

Hybrid rice also commands good price because of its aroma, long grain and good eating quality.

Eladio O. Magtulis of Barangay Capoyuan, Barbaza, Antique testified that using hybrid seeds increases his production by four percent with the application of PalayCheck technology while Benhur Salvador another hybrid rice farmer-cooperator stressed that he would always plant hybrid seeds even if it entails high production inputs because high yield and production can also be expected.

Meanwhile, Manuel O. Olanday, Regional GMA-Rice Program Coordinator stressed the importance of cluster farming approach, unity and cooperation among the farmer-members in order to access government support and interventions in the agriculture sector. He challenged the farmers to increase yield per hectare through the use of hybrid seeds and sustain rice sufficiency level of the region this year.

As of March 12, 2010, DA 6 was able to distribute 1,586 bags of hybrid seeds with 880 bags to the province of Iloilo, 527 bags to Aklan and 179 bags to Capiz. A total of 15,257 bags of certified seeds was also distributed, the bulk of which to the province of Iloilo with 5,917 bags, Negros Occidental – 4,171 bags, Capiz-3,048 bags and Aklan-2,121 bags all these for the 2009-2010 cry cropping season.

Olanday said there is still seed subsidy for first time users of hybrid rice seeds and those who have only planted it for two cropping season while those who have already planted hybrid rice for three cropping seasons or more are not entitled to this subsidy. A subsidy of P 1,000 for the one bag of hybrid rice seeds (15-20 kg/bag depending on the variety) will be given to qualified farmers based on the master list of farmers from the local government units.