To meet the rice self-sufficiency target by the year 2020, Agriculture Secretary Manny F. Piñol is leading the intensified promotion of hybridization in rice the assistance of rice experts from all around the country.
During the opening program of the 4th National Rice Technology Forum held in M’lang, North Cotabato on March 8, 2017, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary laid down four strategies to attain the sufficiency goal.
These include the (1) promotion | of hybrid seeds; (2) access to credit/loans; (3) access to right marketing; and (4) provision of post-harvest facilities.
Promotion of hybrid rice
To determine which variety produces more yield per hectare DA will launch a rice derby contest. The end-result will serve as the government’s guide as to what variety to distribute to farmers. In line with the same initiative, the Department has forged partnership with private seed companies to assist in technology transfer.
Access to credit
To provide easy access to credit and financial assistance, DA has proposed to Congress the enactment of a Quick Credit Facility (QCF) that will help both farmers and fishers alike. Under QCF, farmers may avail themselves of a P25,000 per hectare financial assistance for both farmers and fishers.
The DA, thru the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council has also launched the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program for calamity-stricken farmers and fishers. SURE does not require collateral, has zero interest, and is payable in three years.
Access to right marketing
To give producers access to market, the DA will organize rice farmers into highly-functioning organizations and assist them in setting-up farmer-owned rice outlets in key areas. Through this strategy, the DA aims to eliminate unnecessary layers in the market system.
Provision of post-harvest facilities
In his message, Piñol stressed that “the government will not give equipment which does not work and which you (farmers) do not need.”
As such, the DA will prioritize the distribution of useful and efficient post-harvest facilities. Piñol has been awarding facilities and equipment that will enable farmers to lessen their production and post-harvest losses as he conducted his Biyaheng Bukid tours. The Biyaheng Bukid tour around the country allows the DA Secretary to interact with farmers and fisherfolk closely, giving him and the agency direct information on the needs of the agriculture sector at the grassroots level.
Aside from distributing agriculture machinery, the DA is seeking a P20-billion budget next year for the distribution of solar irrigation system, which forms part of the rice expansion program for 2017.
“The department has to irrigate 80,000 hectares every year to be able to feed the growing number of Filipinos,” Piñol said.
An additional 20,000-30,000 hectare expansion program is targeted for 2018.
“All we need is the political will to implement the programs and projects,” he concluded. (Bethsay Bustamante/DA-AFID)