19/01/2011 –
 The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has cited the importance of rice production inputs in attaining the country’s rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

Flordeliza Bordey, head of the PhilRice’s Impact Evaluation, Policy Research and Advocacy Program, said irrigation, adoption of hybrid and modern inbred varieties, participation in training programs, use of high quality seeds and machine ownership could significantly increase the country’s rice production.

We import because we have low rice area harvested per capita and high per capita rice consumption, but these constraints could be overcome through proper investments on certain inputs,” she said.

Bordey, a PhilRice senior economist, found that rice production in irrigated farms is 76 percent higher than in rainfed farms.

She said farmers attending trainings on rice production attain a four-percent higher yield than non-participating farmers.

On the other hand, farmers using modern inbred rice varieties could increase yield by five percent while using high quality seeds augments production by six percent.

Planting hybrid rice varieties could also yield an 18-percent yield advantage.

She also disclosed that farmers owning tractors and threshers have a five-percent higher yield that than the rice tillers renting farm equipment.

Bordey said the country’s average yield is comparable with the average yield of its Southeast Asian neighbors including countries that export rice such as Thailand and Vietnam.

She said the Philippines averages a yield of 3.69 metric ton per hectare (mt/ha) from 2005 to 2009 while its Southeast Asian neighbors yields an average of 3.73 mt/ha.

China and Japan have significantly higher paddy yields than in Southeast Asian countries, but as country with temperate climate, their paddy yields cannot be compared directly with countries that have tropical climate,” she said.

In terms of consumption, she said, Japan and China are rice sufficient in spite of its low rice harvested per capita owing to its citizens’ diversified diet.

Unlike Philippines, Japan and China have low rice consumption, which is typical to countries with high income. In our country, rice is the staple food of 90 percent of our population. This high consumption of rice is amidst our population’s continuous growth, which burgeons at two percent annually,” she said.

According to Bordey, the Philippines needs to increase its production of paddy rice by 7.5 percent this year and 10 percent in 2012 and 2013 to be self-sufficient by the target year.

The high growth in production required for self-sufficiency might be difficult to achieve but is not entirely improbable. In 2004, production increased by 7.38 percent from 13.5 to 14.5 million metric tons,” she said.

To compensate low area harvested per capita and to further improve yield, the Department of Agriculture is implementing the construction, restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities; research and development; massive training of extension and farmers; and farm mechanization.

To create a favorable market condition for producers, the government is also enhancing the operational efficiency of the National Food Authority (NFA) for rice to have higher market prices.

Moreover, the NFA is expected to gradually increase the procurement of domestically produced paddy rice by 2013, which will increase farmgate price of paddy rice and encourage farmers to produce more rice.