During the 4th National Rice Technology Forum on Wednesday the Philippines Department of Agriculture led by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said his department will launch a rice derby contest to determine which variety produces more yield per hectare. This is a step towards its efforts to promote rice hybridization in order to attain rice self-sufficiency for the country by 2020. Piñol cited four strategies that include: promotion of hybrid rice; access to credit; access to right marketing; and provision of post-harvest facilities. It has also proposed the enactment of a Quick Credit Facility (QCF) to Congress in which farmers and fishers can avail of financial assistance worth P 25,000 for every hectare apart from forging partnership with private seed companies to assist in technology transfer. Moreover the department has also launched the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program for calamity-stricken farmers and fishers. SURE does not require collateral, has zero interest and is payable in three years. To give producers access to market and to eliminate unnecessary layers in the market system, the DA will organize rice farmers into highly-functioning organizations and assist them in setting-up farmer-owned rice outlets in key areas.
Distribution of post-harvest facilities will be prioritized by the DA to lessen their post-harvest and production losses. Piñol pointed out that “the government will not give equipment which does not work and which the farmers do not need.” The DA is also seeking a P20-billion budget for 2018 for the distribution of a solar irrigation system that is also part of their rice expansion program that will cover about 20,000 to 30,000 hectares 2018. The agriculture chief further said the DA has been prioritizing the distribution of useful and efficient post-harvest facilities. “The department has to irrigate 80,000 hectares every year to be able to feed the growing number of Filipinos,” Piñol said. “All we need is the political will to implement the programs and projects,” he added.