By SALLY A ATENTO
LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Agriculture (DA) has targeted P6 million organic rice upland farming project in the Bicol Region to boost its contribution to national rice production.
Dr Jose V Dayao, DA 5 regional director, said that the project will capitalize on drought-tolerant rice varieties and will be initially implemented in the river basin towns of Baao and Nabua in CamSur.
Bicol’s upland rice varieties have the potential for higher grain production and tolerance to drought needed to survive the prevailing climate change threats.
“Our development of upland rice is very timely as these varieties have the potential to withstand higher temperature and fewer water supplies which is what we really need amid the threatening climate change,” said DA Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) director Nicomedes P Eleazar.
Eleazar added that upland rice varies in the region has higher market potential than traditional upland rice strains since it can exceed the general average yield of one to two metric tons (MT) per hectare.
A comparative study conducted by the Bicolandia Greenfields Development Organization Inc (Bigfis), one of the project partners, also shows that some of Bicol’s upland rice varieties have the advantage over DA’s check varieties.
“Some upland rice cultivars in Bicol such as Palawan, Gayang-gang white, Kinarabao, and Magdami were found to have higher grain yield than PSB Rc9 variety,” Bigfis reported.
In the 1960s, an upland area of 63,699ha in the region were used for complete rice production according to the International Rice Research Institute.
However based on DA report, the coverage area dropped to 3,281ha in 2008 due to unpredictable weather conditions in the region and a shift in the planting of other crops such as corn and legumes.
Moreover through a proper climate change program such as this project, Eleazar noted that the said upland areas can be revived for rice production in the region which formerly contributed 20% of the total rice output in the country. – PIA/Albay