Rice farmers told to use high quality seeds to survive rice tariffication
Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is now pushing for the use of high-quality inbred seeds and its associated technologies to help rice farmers become competitive and to survive the influx of cheaper rice from the international market.
PhilRice, the country’s lead agency for rice research for development, issued the recommendation ahead of the implementation of Rice Tariffication Law, which will liberalize rice importation in the country.
According to PhilRice experts, competitiveness means increasing farmers’ yield by at least 5 tons per hectare for inbred seeds and reducing their production cost by 30 percent.
Signed on February 14 by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Rice Trade Liberalization Law mandates PhilRice to develop, propagate, and promote inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organize them into seed growers associations to be engaged in seed production and trade.
Currently, only 45 percent of local farmers use high-quality seeds.
To make them more competitive, experts advise farmers to use high-quality seeds of a recommended variety as this can increase their yield by 10 percent or more, based on studies.
Moreover, farmers are also encouraged to reduce their seeding rate to save on cost. Instead of the usual 80 to 120 kilogram (kg) per hectare, farmers are advised to use 40 kg for transplanted rice and 60 kg for direct-seeded rice.
Farmers are also advised to use recommended inbred varieties that are appropriate to the environment and resistant to pests and diseases in the locality. Farmers may also plant varieties that showed relatively stable and high yield in adaptability trials and have high demand in the local market.