Government urged to cut budget for hybrid rice

By Jennifer A. Ng

Businessmirror, April 18, 2007



RICE farmers are urging the government cut its budget support for hybrid rice and allocate the amount to training farmers to implement organic farming which the nongovernment organization Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said could help them earn more.


Farmers belonging to the R1 also asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support the training of farmers to improve their own seed varieties so they would stop relying on expensive farm inputs.


R1 lead convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos said that based on the experience of farmers, chemical-free rice farming methods have enabled them to earn more.


In a conference on sustainable agriculture in Quezon City on Tuesday, the farmers presented their experiences with System of Rice Intensification (SRI), biodynamic farming, Low-External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA), Diversified and Integrated Farming Technology (DIFT), Masipag Rice Technology and Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Development and Use.


Based on the farmers’ accounts, R1 noted that chemical farming in Luzon has an average yield of 4.5 metric tons (MT) per hectare with production cost of P19,194.


The gross income is P49,500 while the net income is P30,306. The yield from chemical farming in the Visayas was lower at 3.5 tons per hectare only but production cost was higher at P26,990.


The resulting gross and net incomes were, therefore, lower at P35,000 and P8,010, respectively.


The use of the LEISA method yielded 4.5 tons per hectare also but the production cost was only P12,670. The farmers’ net income was P36,830 or 47 percent higher than the net income of Luzon farmers engaged in chemical farming.


“Sustainable agriculture practices were proven to be suited for the poor and cash-strapped farmers. The government’s adoption of these practices in their programs can be directed to poor farmers who have limited access to government’s programs,” said Cantos.


The average yield from System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is 6 MT per hectare. The SRI trial conducted by the Agricultural Training Institute in Cotabato in the summer of 2002 showed the cost of production was as high as P25,150 for a hectare of land. However, the resulting net income was as high P74,850.


“It is high time for the DA to recognize and support the adoption of SRI as a viable mode to increase productivity. The method is labor-intensive and will produce additional on-farm employment in the rural areas,” said Cantos.


R1 proposed an additional P200 million during the Congressional deliberation for the DA budget to train farmers on SRI. Cantos said the amount could be used to set up demonstration farms and establish a community seed bank.




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