The Department of Agriculture plans to cut its allocation for hybrid rice next year to P210 million from P500 million it had set for 2011.

Dr. Frisco Malabanan, program director, said the department scaled down its 2011 target area for hybrid-rice planting to 350,000 hectares from 500,000 hectares due to the reduced budget allocation.

Subsidy will be cut to P600 per hectare from the current P1,000 per hectare.

The DA adjusted its proposal in the face of an expected cut in the budget for the entire rice program.

The program’s current budget is P3.1 billion, P350 million of which is for hybrid rice production.

Aside from scaling down the amount of the direct assistance to farmers, the rice program is planning the possibility of a “graduation scheme” in which farmers who plan to use hybrid-rice seeds next year will no longer be able to avail themselves of assistance in 2012.

Since 2001, government support for the hybrid-rice program resulted in an average growth of close to 3 percent annually.

In 2011 alone, Malabanan said, if the government would continue to implement the program it could save as much as P9.41 billion in rice imports.

“For just an investment of P1.77 billion, the government could save around P8 billion in rice imports by 2011,” he added.

Figures from the GMA Rice Program showed that out of the 16.26-ton palay production last year, the production of commercial hybrid rice accounted for 1.18 tons.?

Meanwhile, the country’s rice stock increased 25% to 3.431 million metric tons, year on year, as of July 21, National Food Authority (NFA) data show. The stock is good for 94 days, “more than enough” to cover the country’s requirements for the July-September “lean season,” NFA said in a press release.