The Agriculture Department expects palay or paddy rice harvest to increase 3 percent this year to 19.6 million metric tons as farmers begin to reap the initial benefits of the government’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
“We aim to harvest 19.6 million metric tons of palay, net of damage due to adverse weather conditions. Our 2020 palay yield forecast would be 3 percent more than the estimated 2019 palay output of 19 million MT,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“We expect that initial benefits of interventions under the P10-billion RCEF program, particularly on inbred rice seeds given free to farmers, will be realized during the dry and main season crops starting this year,” he said.
Inbred certified palay seeds produce an average of 4.54 MT per hectare, compared to farmer home-saved seeds’ yield of 3.50 MT/ha and traditional seeds’ yield of 2.13 MT/ha, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
“Hence, with RCEF seed intervention, we would generate an incremental yield of at least one million MT, as we will provide farmers nationwide, tilling a total of one million hectares, free certified palay seeds,” Dar said.
PhilRice started distributing certified palay seeds in October 2019 for the dry-season planting in 947 rice-producing towns and cities in 57 provinces.
Under RCEF, P3 billion is set aside each year for certified seeds up to 2024, where farmers will receive 40 kilograms per hectare of certified rice seed varieties for every planting season.
“Further, with the adoption of modern technologies, and mechanizing land preparation, crop establishment and harvesting, farmers could attain an incremental yield of another one MMT of palay per hectare,” Dar said.
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization will also distribute P5 billion worth of farm machines and equipment to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations and local government units.
A study by PhilMech showed that mechanized rice farming operations could reduce total palay production cost by P4/kg from the current average of P12/kg.
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