The Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting to produce 19.6 million metric tons (MMT) of palay (unhusked rice) in 2020.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the projected palay harvest for this year would be 3 percent more than the estimated 2019 palay output of 19 MMT.
Dar attributed the potential increase in output to the initial benefits of the government’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program.
“We aim to harvest 19.6 million metric tons of palay, net of damage due to adverse weather conditions,” the agriculture chief said.
“We expect that initial benefits of interventions under the P10-billion RCEF program will be realized during the dry and main season crops starting this year.”
“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,” the agriculture head added.
According to the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), inbred certified palay seeds produce an average of 4.54 MT/hectare (ha) as compared to farmers home-saved seeds’ yield of 3.50 MT/ha and traditional seeds’ yield of 2.13 MT/ha.
“We will provide farmers nationwide free certified palay seeds.”
“Hence, with RCEF seed intervention, we would generate an incremental yield of at least one MMT, as we will provide farmers nationwide, tilling a total of one million hectares, free certified palay seeds,” he said.
In October last year, the DA-PhilRice started distributing certified palay seeds 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.
Dar also noted that the adoption of modern technologies, mechanized land preparation, crop establishment, and harvesting could help farmers attain an incremental yield of another one MMT of palay per hectare.
Also under RCEF, the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PHilMech) will distribute P5-billion worth of farm machines and equipment to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations, and local government units.
PhilMech research shows that mechanizing rice farming operations can reduce total palay production cost by P4/kg from the current average of P12 per kilogram.