I woke up early today to read a very positive report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) stating that rice production in the first half-year of the administration of President Rody Duterte grew by over 6% supplying 95% of the country’s needs.
Actually, I already got an advance information last night when Field Operations officer Chris Morales sent me a link to the same story but as has always been my habit as a former news editor, I waited for a second confirmatory report before I decided to share this with you.
The PSA report covered 2016 which was not really an ideal agricultural year because El Niño ravaged the crop sector in the first half while three typhoons hit Cagayan Valley and the Bicol Region towards the end of the year.
In spite of these calamities, our farmers were able to produce more than the previous year 2015. In fact, the average yield per hectare has already increased from 3.9-metric tons per harvest to 4.38% as of the First Quarter of 2017.
The increased awareness of our farmers in using modern technology like planting outstanding rice varieties especially hybrids contributed greatly to the increase in production.
Policy reforms instituted by the Duterte Administration like providing free irrigation, banning rice importation during peak harvest season, mechanization and easy access credit contributed to the enthusiasm of farmers to produce more.
With God’s grace, the Agriculture Department is expecting a better performance for 2017 because the country did not experience devastating typhoons and the rice farmers are almost done with their harvesting.
Technically, at 95% national production and the 850,000-metric tons that we are committed to import under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) for rice, the Philippines is now rice sufficient.
But we will not stop at 95% because the Agriculture Department is targetting a 100% local production to supply the national requirement.
Next year, 2018, the Agriculture Department will aggressively implement a Hybridization Program which targets 600,000 hectares, solar and small irrigation projects, a national mechanization program to cut post-harvest losses and an easy access financing program to allow farmers to buy better seeds and sufficient farm inputs.
The target is to increase national yield to 6 metric tons per hectare per harvest which would produce enough rice for Filipinos over the next five years.