Philippines to Quadruple Rice Yield by 2011

Philippine Rice Farmers can Quadruple Rice Yield by Double Cropping

Bandar Seri Begawan, March 12th, 2010 – (Brunei Darussalam) The Philippines can increase its rice yield up to 4 tons per hectare, plant its main crop twice a year and attain a 20 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2011 in only 1,300 hectares of land.

While farmers can increase their yields by double cropping – it’s going to take a lot of hard work said, Ronilo A. Beronio, head of the Philippine Rice Research Institute, a Philippine government research and entrepreneurial institution.

During the Wasan farm demonstration, Beronio was quoted as saying, “we have demonstrated that the Philippine rice production system works despite the problems”. Beronio is part of a three member delegation researching the issue. The delegation was comprised of rice and soil experts and who made a three-day strategic assessment of the 1,500 hectares of land planted with rice in the four districts.

Other experts that visited the Philippines (Brunei) were international rice expert Dr. Eulalio Bautista, Dr. César Mamaril, and the PhilRice OIC Deputy Executive Director for Research. They left the country yesterday. When asked about the groups findings, Beronio said that the present problem is strategic , very challenging and a double whammy.

One of the main issues in Philippine rice production is that of problematic drainage, which making the land hard to dry out. Because there are toxicities in the water and land, the drainage issue is exacerbated. “The soil is acidic, salty, full of sulphur, and deficient in nutrients,” Beronio said, adding that in Brunei, seawater floods the land during high tide.

Dr Mamaril, a retired scientist from the International Rice Research Institute, developed the Minus-One Element Technique (MOET) that checks if the soil has enough nutrients for the rice to seed thereby guiding farmers in the use of fertilizers. MOET uses a pre-weighted, low-cost fertilizer formulation from PhilRice to identify the nutrients present in the soil and those needed to nourish the plant. The technique was debuted at the Wasan demonstration farm last year. Since then, rice experts from the Philippines and PhilRice have been sent to Brunei to develop new varieties of rice suited to Philippine soil, aid in seed production, as well as help train local Filipino extension workers in farm techniques.

“We will send two to three Philippine extension specialists to conduct a field school with Brunei farmers,” said Beronio. “They will live and work with the local farmers for three or four months and guide them in the art and science of modern rice production. After all, farming is a full-time job”.

20 students and a teacher from the Wasan Vocational School, as well as 10 extension workers from the Ministry of Industry & Primary Resources are expected to fly to the Philippines for a three-week training and education program at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station. The assessment survey and overseas training are part of the Brunei Darussalam-Philippine Bilateral Cooperation Project to help the Sultanate attain rice self-sufficiency.

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