Nearly 20K Caraga farmers grow inbred rice seeds in 2021

A total of 19,615 farmers from the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur devoted their farms to certified inbred rice production in 2021.

The three provinces are the coverage areas in the Caraga region for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) seed program of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Agusan of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“The RCEF program aims to help our farmers become competitive in terms of high production and increased income,” PhilRice-Agusan RCEF Coordinator Jasmin Reyes said in a phone interview Thursday.

The use of certified inbred rice seeds is among the preferences provided by the DA and PhilRice-Agusan to farmers to achieve the goal, she added.

PhilRice-Agusan has been distributing different varieties of certified inbred rice seeds to farmers for free.

The varieties distributed in 2021 include RC 402, RC 216, RC 160, RC 442, and RC 480.

This year, 65,388 bags of certified seeds were released to rice farmers in the three provinces, covering 32,693 hectares of rice fields, data provided by PhilRice-Agusan indicated.

The number of bags distributed is part of the 153,000-bag target allocation for the region’s 2021 cropping season that began on Sept. 16, 2021, until March 15, 2022.

At the provincial level, 5,875 rice farmers in Agusan del Norte have received 19,584 bags of certified inbred rice seeds covering 9,798 hectares, while in Agusan del Sur, 6,014 farmers were provided with 20,049 bags covering 10,024 hectares.

In Surigao del Sur, a total of 25,755 bags were released to 7,726 farmers this year covering 12,877 hectares, the data from PhilRice-Agusan showed.

“The number of beneficiaries and bags distributed is expected to increase as planting season for the 2021 cropping will commence early next year,” Reyes said.

Beneficial to farmers

In a separate interview Thursday, Fresciso Varquez, the PhilRice-Agusan project development officer, said farmers who are into certified inbred rice seeds are in a more advantageous position compared to those who use good or ordinary seeds.

“Based on actual field studies and demonstrations conducted by PhilRice, certified inbred rice seeds produce 5 (percent) to 10 percent higher yields compared to ordinary seeds,” Varquez said.

The seeds, he added, are certified as high-quality seeds by the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry Seed Quality Control Services.

“These seeds can also withstand different rice diseases. Certified inbred rice seeds have no seed-borne diseases,” Varquez said.

He noted that more rice farmers in the region are expected to engage in certified inbred rice farming for the 2022 cropping season.

Varquez said the anticipated increase in the harvest of certified inbred seed users in communities is expected to induce more farmers to venture into inbred rice seed farming and production in the region.

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