Boost in Cordillera rice production eyed with PhilRice, DOST technologies
A Department of Science and Technology (DOST) executive said the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at the Science City of Muños in Nueva Ecija has available technologies which are applicable in the Cordillera, to improve rice production.
DOST Region III Director Dr. Julius Caesar Sicat, who was previously assigned in Cordillera, said the region “should adopt the technologies and systems developed in Nueva Ecija and other regions because they are universal in application and not specific to an area” as well as increase yield, he said.
Ifugao is known for its rice terraces where different varieties including organic and native are produced. Kalinga province is the top producer of rice in the Cordillera. Mountain province also produces a small quantity of rice, adding to the production, which is sold locally and abroad.
Sicat explained that based on experience, rice production practice and technologies at the country’s rice granary in Region 3 which were introduced and adopted in other regions were proven to be effective. “If we use the same inputs, it will produce the same result,” he said.
He said that critical in rice production is the number of plants in an area. Adopting the acceptable distance of one plant from another also affects the yield. Ideally, there should be 20 plants in a 20-square meter area.
Sicat said there are rice fields where planters are paid, but they do not follow the ideal plant distance. “Using mechanized rice planters makes the plant distance precise,” he said. The technology, he said, has two kinds — the riding type which is used in flat and wide rice fields and the walking type which can be used in small rice paddies like in the Cordillera where the fields are on mountainsides.
Using appropriate planting materials or those with a higher potential to produce is also recommended. The indigenous rice plants can only produce 30 to 60 sacks of rice per hectare but using the inbreed modern can produce 100 sacks per hectare while the hi-breed rice variety can give 200 sacks per hectare.
Putting the correct quality and quantity of fertilizer and making sure that the plants have enough water also improve yield, Sicat said.
Increasing the yield of colored rice or the brown rice which is abundant in Cordillera using the DOST’s developed super heated steam technology will also be beneficial, according to the official. The technology, he said, exposes the brown rice to steam, partially “cooking” the grains which adds two months to the one-month shelf life.
Sicat said producers and even marketers are discouraged because of the short life span of colored rice which leads to losses. However, with the new technology, many have opted to produce it, not only because of the good selling price but also because of the health benefits from the colored rice varieties.
An agriculture study in 1996, Sicat said, revealed that the country is only 97 percent rice sufficient but with the brown rice now being produced and marketed, the balance of three percent closes the gap. (Liza T. Agoot/PNA)