While Bohol generally is self-sufficient in supply of palay, some parts of the province still import rice from Cebu. Third District Rep. Arthur Yap, having served years as secretary of agriculture in the past, knows every inch of the problem as well as the solution. He starts his own district as the pilot area for his rice hybridization program and fertilizer assistance program to improve the farmers’ yield as he intends the lead Boholano farmers into catching up or even exceeding the national average in rice production of 3.8-4 tons per hectare. He launched on July 10, the Rice Hybridization Program in barangay Lomanoy, Lila, introducing SL 8 hybrid rice to increase the average yield. The congressman and Lila Municipal Agriculture Officer Arsenia Tapon led the ceremonial planting of SL8 hybrid seedlings in the hybrid rice and fertilizer demo farm along the coastal highway in barangay Lomanoy, Lila.
The techno demo had been intended to show-window to the farmers for actual planting, distancing, and the application of organic fertilizer for comparison in using different fertilizers and the use of seeds. Tapon added that the demo also intends to observe as they maintain the growth, number of tillers, panicles and production based on the actual area and crop cut. The demo will also show the comparison in the fertilizer application rate per hectare between DA fertilizer recommendation in Bohol against the suggested organic fertilizer using vermin-compost (LGU-produced), and compost organic fertilizer. The congressman wants to show that Bohol farmers can produce an average of 160-180 cavans per hectare which means a big leap from what used to be perceived that one hectare can only produce 60 cavans.
Last year, Yap reviewed the production statistics and noticed that Bohol had been left behind in the national rate based on 2010 production. The national production rate is placed at 3.8 to 4 tons per hectare, while Bohol remains at 3.65 tons per hectare. As former agriculture secretary, Yap knew that there is an available rice production technology that can be adopted to increase the yields. Yap then studied specific areas having requisites of good soil and water resources and segregated these areas for pilot studies and trials on increasing palay yields. In the program, Yap required beneficiaries to adopt correct planting techniques, water management, the right dosage and timing in the application of inputs and fertilizers; and most of all, the use of the best quality seeds in the market which is the hybrid seeds. Yap approached the leading distributors of hybrid seeds in Bohol and eventually, SL Agritech expressed interest in doing focused field trials.
During the dry season planting period in 2011-2012, Yap identified a total of 1,300 hectares throughout the 3 rd district as pilot areas for SL8 hybrid rice cultivation. In the program, SL Agritech provides the technology on SL8 with other patners--Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center Manager Eugene Cahiles , National Irrigation Administration (NIA)-7 Regional Manager Diosdado Rosales, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) president Jovy Bernabe, Philrice, Department of Agriculture Regional Executive Director Angel Enriquez, the town mayors, and Alturas Group of Companies. AGC guarantees sure market and provides farm inputs and supplies for production as the farmer’s advance on their proceeds. Indeed, it resulted to increase in rice production wherein the first 727 hectares of rice areas planted to SL8 posted average yield of 5.48 tons per hectare or 110 canvas per hectare on its first trial. Yap cited that it was equivalent to about 50.5 percent increase in the average production volume of 3.65 tons per hectare.
The average increase per hectare had been 1.8 tons or 36 bags per hectare which means increase in the farmers’ income, Yap added. Among the top producers in were the towns of Batuan (57.5 percent), Dimiao (57.1 percent), and Garcia-Hernandez (56.7 percent). This prompted Yap to proceed with this year’s upcoming dry season planting as he intends to provide subsidy on seeds and even offering reward for the participating farmers and farmers’ groups who would register highest production volumes. Third District currently has more than 16,000 hectares of irrigated ricelands which Yap said can be converted to hybrid rice production areas. Yap targets to expand to 2,500 more hectares or double the production area in the coming dry season. Yap’s rice hybridization program is an integral part of his vision under the HEART program that also focuses on infrastructure assistance, rural development and tourism—all geared towards self-reliance and higher income for the households to sustain the increased livelihood for 3 rd district constituents; aside from the direct and personal assistance for the medical, accident, death, livelihood and educational needs of the constituents.