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Rice program eyed to sustain production

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), in coordination with the North Cotabato government, will launch a program designed to provide sustainable rice supply in Mindanao.

In a press statement, the agency said the two components of the “Quick Turn-Around” program – ratooning and farm expansion, is aimed at expanding rice production to 300,000 hectares with a third devoted to ratooning, a mechanism where plants are made to regenerate for a shorter second cropping.

“The only downside to this technology for rice (ratooning) is that the harvest is usually only 1/3 of the harvest of the normal planting process while the upside is that there is a Quick Turn-Around because there is no need for the farmer to till and prepare the field and sow seeds or plant again,” said Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, MinDA chair.

On the expansion of upland rice and rain-fed farms and those that use irrigation systems will be made to plant TH 82, a new hybrid rice variety that only produces higher yield but also uses a little amount of water in growing it

The new rice variety underwent a Department of Agriculture (DA)-administered field test in early 2018 which resulted in a yield of between eight to 10 metric tons a hectare, said Piñol.

The rice program was created to respond to the projected tight supply of rice in the country due to the halt of major exporting countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Piñol added that North Cotabato Nancy A. Catamco and Agriculture Assistant Secretary for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM) Sailila Abdula gave positive feedback about the program during its meeting last Monday.

Starting in North Cotabato, the eighth top rice producing provinces in the country, the program will be replicated in other rice-producing provinces of Mindanao.

It will be implemented by MinDA and the local government unit (LGU) with the support from DA and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Piñol said he asked the DA to release early the Inbred Rice Seeds under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) and to provide additional support for the participating LGUs.

He also asked the NIA to release early the irrigation water in systems where water is still available and to defer any maintenance and repair works for the next season.

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