2010 BEST AGRICULTURE NEWS STORY - NATIONAL
"DA banks on ratooning technology for RP's rice self-sufficiency in 2013"
By Jonathan Mayuga
TO help achieve the country's rice self-sufficiency targets, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is pinning its hope on ratooning, a technology that regenerates the growth of new rice tillers after harvest.
The DA is eyeing to promote the technology, which can be applied after the first cropping season, and will replicate the best practices from towns that practice ratooning.
"Farmers should continue practicing rice ratooning, for it requires less inputs and labor but gives additional harvest in just one cropping season," Frisco Malabanan, the DA's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani rice program director, said.
Farmers would spend less in ratooning because they need not till the land, or buy new seeds and apply fertilizers, herbicides and molluscides, he said.
Ratooning is a practical solution to the farmers' woes, as it helps increase farm productivity per unit area per unit time. This is because a ratooned crop has shorter duration and besides, it almost costs less than growing a new crop.
Moreover, it minimizes risk of pest and diseases and unpredictable bad weather condition because of the shorter duration from the time new rice shoots appear until they are harvested. It also maintains the genetic purity of the variety and requires less irrigation water.
From March to May, a hybrid rice-ratoon project was initiated by the Ormoc City local government unit (LGU), led by Mayor Eric Codilla.
According to Judith Paredes, city agricultural technician, the project is piloted in 17 adjoining barangays covering 500 hectares and 274 farmer-beneficiaries.
The area of coverage will double in 2010. More technology-demonstration farms will be put up in 2010 to ensure high adoption rate from farmers. The Philippines wants to be self-sufficient in rice by 2013.
"This initiative of Mayor Codilla is the first local government-backed ratooning project in the Philippines," said regional executive director Leo Caneda of the DA-Regional Field Unit (RFU) 8.
Most of the farmers who were involved in the said project have attained an average yield of 20 cavans per hectare (cav/ha). Based on experience, the ratoon-crop yield of a hybrid-rice variety is higher than inbred rice.
One of the Ormoc City farmers who engaged in hybrid-rice ratooning harvested 32 cav/ha more in addition to the 160 cavans he already got from the main harvest.
During the focus-group discussion, farmers showed their interest to further improve their ratoon yield by following the recommended technology. Also present during the meeting were members of LGU-Ormoc, and regional officers of the DA, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
With this, the LGU-Ormoc, DA-RFU 8, ATI 8 and NIA 8 have agreed to intensify the promotion of hybrid- rice ratooning technology by providing location-specific interventions and advocacy programs.
This means giving each farmer-participant a bag of fertilizer per hectare and continuous technical briefings, trainings and field days.
Likewise, the concerned offices plan to continue the ratooning project from March to May each year until 2013. It aims for a harvest of 40 cav/ha for farmer-beneficiaries to maximize their profits on per-hectare basis despite minimal interventions.
By attaining 40 cav/ha, a farmer who sells his produce at P725 per cavan can have a gross income of P29,000. Considering that the cost of production is P7,170, a farmer can earn an extra income of P21,830 aside from what he already obtained from the main crop within a cropping season.