In-the-News

Program aims to double rice production in Leyte

November 07, 2016

TACLOBAN CITY—The Leyte provincial government is targeting to increase the unmilled rice output of farmers to more than double their pre-Yolanda yield under a program, which encourages the use of “climate-resilient” seeds.

Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said farmers in the province have increased their average output to as much as 90 cavans per hectare in 2015, from 50 cavans per hectare before Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) hit the country in 2013.

Farmers under the provincial government’s More Income in the Countryside (MIC) rice program also experienced “considerable increase” in yield as their output reached 120 cavans per hectare from 80 cavans.

Introduced in 2014, the program aims to help rice farmers by providing them loans to cover labor, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and insurance. They were also encouraged to plant “climate-resilient” rice seeds.

Leyte has 60,000 hectares of rice land, making it one of the country’s top five rice-producing provinces. Petilla said the revenue of rice farmers in the province is between P3 billion and P4 billion per cropping season.

Full mechanization

Petilla said the province targets to increase further the production under its program to at least 170 cavans per hectare, which is more than double the average yield of farmers before Yolanda.

“Mechanization is the way to go,” he said in an interview during the recent launching of a partnership with a private company that will pilot full mechanization of rice production in three Leyte municipalities. “We have seen an increase in production and now we want to do it massively.”

Chenyi Agventures (CYA), a company owned by Renucci Partnership, is offering an end-to-end mechanized rice-farming process, the first in the Visayas region. The full mechanization will cover land preparation to planting, cultivation, to harvesting, drying, silo storage, milling, bagging and distribution.

CYA founder Rachel Marjorie Renucci-Tan said the company will be involved in the whole rice value chain in the province.

Tan said the company wants to uplift the condition of the farmers by helping them increase their earnings from planting rice. She said mechanization will reduce wastage and lower production cost.

Full implementation will start next year with an introduction of a high-yielding and existing seed variety that was proven to grow well in Leyte initially to cover 2,000 hectares of rice land. It also plans to set up a state-of-the-art postharvest facility.

Tan said the partnership targets to increase the current average income of farmers pegged at P19,000 per hectare, by sevenfold via the provision of high-yielding seed variety, fertilizers, pesticides and modern-farming equipment. The company will also train farmers enrolled in the MIC rice program on adopting optimal planting techniques.

CYA is currently helping farmers in deploying and operating combined harvester-thresher in the towns of Alang-alang, Santa Fe and San Miguel—the municipalities that are considered Leyte’s rice granary.

The harvester allows farmers to cover as much as four hectares of land daily, compared to one hectare via manual labor. Tan said the equipment will give a farmers a big boost especially during the rainy season.

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