MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will spend P500 million over the next 2 years for loans and farm inputs to support hybrid rice farmers.
The government is allocating P200 million for 2013, and P300 million for 2014, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during a speech at the 1st Hybrid Rice Congress in Munoz, Nueva Ecija.
In his speech, Alacala said the government would stop extending seed subsidies to hybrid rice farmers. Instead, he said his department would provide support by strengthening hybrid rice initiatives of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and attracting more investments from private hybrid seed companies.
He said these measures are meant to make hybrid rice varieties more accessible to farmers. Alcala added that the entry of more hybrid seed companies would reduce local prices of hybrid rice seeds.
Alcala said the country posted a record harvest of over 18 million metric tons (MT) in 2012 without seed subsidies. He noted the hybrid rice sector is a vital part of the government’s goal of achieving rice self-sufficiency in 2014.
Alcala encouraged farmers to take government loans, saying that under the P400-million Sikat-Saka program of the DA and the Land Bank of the Philippines, hybrid rice farmers are eligible to obtain production loans of up to P50,000 per hectare.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima earlier announced that the government is looking to increase the land area for hybrid rice cultivation to 350,000 hectares in 2014. The land area for hybrid rice was at 146,000 hectares in 2012. The government has a target of 281,397 hectares in 2013. – Rappler.com