Mechanization And Use Of Hybrid Rice Can Reduce Production Cost

A mechanical transplanter plants seedlings fast and much cheaper than manual transplanting.

Direct seeding can also be mechanized.

Farm mechanization and use of hybrid rice were among the strategies highlighted in the recent Annual Rice Policy Forum that could improve rice production and supply in the country. The Forum, organized by the Asia Rice Foundation, was held at the PCAARRD headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.

One of the resource persons, Dr. Arnold S. Juliano, said that “farm mechanization can increase cropping intensity, maximize production potential and prevent losses. He pointed out, for instance, that mechanical transplanters can reduce production costs and aid in the timeliness of farm operations. Dr. Juliano is the head of the PhilRice Rice Engineering and Mechanization Division.

At PhilSCAT at the CLSU Compound in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, mechanical transplanter was used in a techno demo showcase, transplanting 14 hybrid varieties. The use of the transplanter required less seeds per hectare, resulting in savings in the cost of seeds. The demo successfully produced rice at a lower labor cost. Among the hybrid rice varieties used, US-88 from SeedWorks Philippines, gave the highest yield.

US-88 from SeedWorks Philippines gave the highest yield in the PhilSCAT demo in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Other resource persons agreed that farm mechanization can indeed improve rice production and supply in the Philippines. These include Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan of the Department of Agriculture and Dr. Flordeliza Bordey, deputy executive director at PhilRice.

Dr. Bordey said that the cost of rice production in the Philippines is about 30 to 50 percent higher compared to that of Thailand and Vietnam. That’s because the Philippines is less mechanized. She pointed out that labor cost is around 30% of the cost of producing rice in the Philippines, which is more than 5 times higher than in Vietnam and Thailand.

Dr. Emil Q. Javier, vice chairman of Asia Rice Foundation, made an important recommendation. That is a paradigm shift in managing our rice problem – shift from self-sufficiency to raising farmers’ income. That means make rice farming profitable for farmers. And this will require intensification of rice culture in the favorable rice-growing areas. With irrigation, adequate fertilization and increasing deployment of rice hybrids, we can produce palay at P8 per kilo or less, Dr. Javier said.

Also discussed at the forum were how rice tariffication impacts on the country’s rice industry; how rice importation affects our farmers and their income and other matters.

By the way, the Asia Rice Foundation is a regional non-profit organization that works for an Asia that can feed itself and cares about the well-being of both its rice consumers and producers.

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