DENNIS MIGUEL: He Harvested 200 Cavans Per Hectare From Rainfed Land That Used To Produce Only 50 Cavans

Dennis Miguel, the fellow who wanted to break the world record of 20.2 tons of palay per hectare achieved in India, did not quite make it but what he has proven is that a rainfed rice farm that used to produce only about 50 cavans per hectare can yield four times, or 200 cavans.

Nine-year-old Simon Pungan poses with heavily laden grains before harvest time. The farm is named after him – Simon’s Farm.

At the Simon’s Farm in Brgy. Luna in Santiago, Isabela where Dennis implemented the System for Rice Intensification (SRI) technique developed by Cornell University experts, he was able to produce 10.8 tons of palay (fresh weight) per hectare. That’s equivalent to 216 cavans per hectare.

Dennis Miguel did not quite make his dream of breaking the world record rice harvest but he is not giving up.
On April 20, the harvesting, threshing and weighing of the palay was done by representatives of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Departmet of Agriculture in Region 2. Three 10-square meter areas in different parts of the farm were selected for harvesting. Many farmers as well as some government officials were present to witness the harvesting.

The farm is not ideal for planting rice because it is rainfed and the soil nutrients must have been depleted during the past many rice planting seasons. But Dennis chose to do his demo planting of SRI to see how the SRI technique will come out despite the challenging situation.

Dennis Miguel, Eric Pungan, Anthony Cortes and members of the production team.

According to Eric Pungan, the owner of the farm, in the last three years, they were only able to harvest the equivalent of less than 50 cavans per hectare. It’s 70 to 77 cavans from 1.5 hectares.

The result is an eye-opener. It means that the rainfed areas in many parts of the Philippines can be made to produce high yields by following the System of Rice Intensification. The system can be adopted by smallhold farmers because it might be quite difficult to adopt in large areas where water management may be a big challenge. Under SRI, taking care of the rice plants is like gardening where the requirements of the plants are precise. Like, for instance, the use of very young seedlings with only two leaves and planting only one seedling per hill. In large farms, the young seedlings that are newly planted can be carried away by flash floods or heavy rains.

Dennis Miguel, Eric Puingan, Emmanuel Alejandro and Zac B. Sarian during harvest.

While adopting the SRI can be demanding, it is one way of ensuring viable income and food security among smallhold farmers. Imagine, Dennis has proven that a one-hectare rainfed farm can produce the usual yield of four hectares.

While Dennis has not achieved his big dream of breaking the world rice record harvest, he is not giving up. In fact he will continue to keep on innovating until he achieves his goal. The owner of the farm, Eric Pungan, is a 33-year-old businessman who is very much interested in agriculture. Together Dennis and Eric will collaborate in undertaking improvement not only of rice production but of other crops like corn, herbs and vegetables.

Representatives from PhilRice and DA Region 2 doing the harvesting.

For undertaking the SRI project and new projects in the offing, Dennis has been depending on the help of seven students from the Isabela State University who are pursuing agriculture studies. They are given cash allowance and food. What is really important for the students is that they acquire hands-on experience in farming. If they decide to be on their own later on, their experience can be a very important asset.

Aside from the students, Drnnis also relied on the assistance of friends like Anthony Cortes who is the distributor of Supravim, an organic plant growth accelerator from the United States. Supravim was sprayed on the leaves of the rice plants four times—every 15 days starting on the 15th day after transplanting and every 15 days thereafter. Supravim is claimed to enhance root development and tiller production. It helps more efficient uptake of nutrients from the soil.

Threshing the panicles right after harvesting.

In the particular SRI project, Dennis said that they spent a total of about P50,000 to produce the 10.8 tons of fresh palay. When dried, the recovery has been computed by the PhilRice representative to be 9.05 tons or about 180.01 cavans. If the 9.05 tons were sold at P19 per kilo, the gross would be P171,950. Deduct the P50,000 spent in producing the rice and you will get a profit of P121,950 per hectare.

Dennis Miguel, Eric and Mary Ann Pungan and their 9-year-old Simon after whom the farm is named.

If the farmer chooses to mill his own harvest and sell milled rice, he could make even more.
Of course, the farmer will not spend all his time, day in and day out, taking care of his SRI plants. He can do other things like producing high-value vegetables for added income.

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6 thoughts on “DENNIS MIGUEL: He Harvested 200 Cavans Per Hectare From Rainfed Land That Used To Produce Only 50 Cavans

  1. Are the ISU open for training or deseminating in this kind of farm technology to the loca Farmers?

    1. I don’t think ISU is teaching SRI. Dennis Miguel may be in a better position to train. The faculty in ISU might not even be familiar with SRI.

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