THE Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas is working on sustaining the region’s ranking as second top rice producer in the country, said Regional Director Remelyn Recoter.

Recoter, who was in Bacolod City Monday, March 12, noted that Western Visayas plays between second and third in terms of production and harvested area next to Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley.

She said that despite being included in the top five rice producing regions, Western Visayas still needs to increase its yield performance, which is currently at rank 12 or 13.

“Western Visayas is the third largest region in the country in terms of rice areas,” Recoter said, adding that “if the region can increase our yield performance, we might be able to edge out one of the other two regions.”

Data obtained by SunStar Bacolod from DA-Western Visayas showed that the region’s rice production in 2017 was pegged at 2.2 million metric tons with harvested area of 654,800 hectares.

In terms of yield performance, Western Visayas posted 3.47 metric tons per hectare last year, it added.

To further boost rice production, the DA-Western Visayas is banking on hybridization, more irrigation services, and farm mechanization, among others.

Recoter said they are working on reversing the current irrigated and rain-fed area ratio of 40 to 60 percent.

She said increasing the irrigated farms to more than 50 percent would result to a conservative increase of one metric ton per hectare.

“Even if we can only increase by at least half metric ton per hectare, it will already contribute a lot to the region’s total rice production,” Recoter said, adding that the Jalaur River Irrigation and Panay River Basin projects would help increase the irrigated areas.