CITY OF SAN FERANANDO -- Department of Agriculture (DA) Central Luzon OIC-Regional Executive Director Engineer Roy Abaya disclosed that the regional office targets to increase their 2018 rice production to four million metric tons in a bid to contribute to the country's rice sufficiency program.

Abaya made this planned projection during a monthly agri-meeting with stakeholders and also recognized the significant contribution of the agriculture officers for the increment on 2017 national rice production.

“Maraming salamat mula sa DA Central Luzon dahil sa magandang over-all performance natin for 2017. From 3.3 million metric tons last 2016 to 3.63 million metric tons last 2017. Let us be consistent on this achievement because for 2018 rice production we have a target of four million metric tons, that is about 10-12 percent increment," Abaya said.

Abaya said that the province of Nueva Ecija plays a crucial role in the planned target. Nueva Ecija Provincial Agriculturist Serafin S. Santos said that one strategy to further increase the rice production is to adjust the planting calendar of farmers.

“We can adjust our planting calendar or schedule. Magtanim ng maaga during wet season so that harvest time will be at last week of September to second week of October,” he said.

Gapan City Vice Mayor Inocencio Bautista, Jr., Gapan City Chairman Committee on Agriculture Councilor Pedro Delos Santos, and City Agriculture Office Celso Hernandez also attended the monthly meeting.

The Province of Nueva Ecija is dubbed as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines” composed of 27 municipalities and five cities.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently disclosed that Central Luzon contributed at least 19 percent to the country’s total rice production in 2017.

The data released by the PSA showed an increase of 1.65 millon metric tons (MT) to the national rice production for the year 2017 compared to the 2016 production. For the year 2017, a total of 19.28 million MT of palay were produced compared to 17.63 million MT last 2016 or a 9.63 percent increment.

Central Luzon has contributed 3.63 million MT from the total national rice production or almost 19 percent proving itself again as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines.” The increase was due to sufficient irrigation, favorable weather conditions, and higher yielding seed varieties as cited by the PSA.

Meanwhile, the DA agenda now is towards rice productivity and competitiveness.