The Department of Agriculture (DA) has promulgated a policy on establishing clustered hybrid rice farms in different parts of the Philippines to improve rice production.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a memorandum circular that the project aimed to showcase hybrid rice production to promote farmers’ adoption of new technology.

The project intends to generate data that will promote the adoption of recommended hybrid rice varieties, technologies and management practices and showcase the clustering approach for production, harvesting, processing and marketing.

The provincial hybrid rice cluster farms shall be implemented beginning the dry season 2021-2022 and will continue every cropping season.

Minimum cluster size

The allotted area for each cluster farm site is at least 100 hectares, which will be set up in 15 provinces with significant hybrid rice harvested area.

These are Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Leyte, Bukidnon, Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

“These cluster farms will also be established in other provinces outside RCEF (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) areas but on a smaller scale,” the circular reads.

A hybrid rice company or agency participating in this initiative shall plant a maximum of three varieties of hybrid rice.

In choosing a site for hybrid rice clustering, it should have a road network making it accessible to service providers of farm and postharvest machineries, facilities and equipment as well as an irrigation facility that provides sufficient water for two croppings in a year.

Willing to adopt

The circular also states that members of farmers’ cooperatives and associations must be willing to adopt or accept recommended farming technologies.

Farmers must be willing to be trained in agrientrepreneurship, it added.

They should belong to existing active farmers’ associations or cooperatives that are duly registered under the Cooperative Development Authority or the Securities and Exchange Commission, with preference for farmers who received operational rice processing centers other farm equipment or machineries.

Before establishing the demonstration farms, participating parties will be asked to conduct soil analysis to determine the sites’ soil chemical, physical and biological conditions to determine the soil nutrient or health condition.

Likewise, collect the agroclimatic data in the selected sites.

Frisco Malabanan, Agriculture adviser for the hybrid rice program, said more than 1 million ha of land have been cultivated for hybrid rice since 2019.

“By 2022, we will be able to plant hybrid rice in 1.1 million ha of land across the Philippines,” said Malabanan in an online media briefing held Thursday.

—Jordeene B. Lagare

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