Quality seeds, machines keys to competitiveness in food production
Senator Cynthia Villar, agriculture committee chair, is urging Filipino rice farmers to use quality rice seeds and farm machineries to earn good income and become competitive in the local and international market.
“[Trade liberalization compels us to be more competitive as agricultural crops such as rice from other countries will easily be available in the market]. To compete [with other rice-producing countries such as Vietnam], you have to reduce production cost. That can only be possible if you learn how to use quality rice seeds and farm machineries,” Villar said during the 2018 Lakbay Palay Dry Season at PhilRice Central Experiment Station.
Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the country is expected to ease up its control on the entry of imported products by reducing the quotas and its tariff on imported rice.
“I am [instructing] PhilRice to educate as many farmers as possible on the use of quality rice seeds. They are here to help you increase your yield and reduce farm expenses. Your survival under trade liberalization depends on yourself. We can only help you with government programs and services,” she said.
She then encouraged the farmers to plant the right kind of variety that is appropriate for their local condition, and can produce good yield.
Currently, the national average yield in rice production is at 4 metric tons per hectare (mt/ha) while Nueva Ecija, the country’s rice granary, produces rice at 5.8 mt/ha.
“If Nueva Ecija can, other provinces can also do it. PhilRice bred a number of varieties that exceeds the national average of production. Let’s explore the options because it can enhance our yield,” Villar said.
Among the machineries, she identified the use of mechanical transplanter, combine harvester, and mechanical dryer as main machines that can reduce labor cost.