ILOILO City – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas remains optimistic to reach its rice production target of five metric tons per hectare this year despite the recent calamities that hit the region.
DA regional director Remelyn Recoter said the region’s agriculture sector is climate-dependent.
“With the rainy season prevailing now, although the planting was delayed, we hope to make it up this year by the provision of high-yielding varieties,” Recoter said.
She added that some rice farmers were unable to plant due to the prolonged dry spell in the first half of the year, which resulted to reduction of planted areas.
“It will most likely spill over to next year,” Recoter said.
Based on DA’s report, the El Niño phenomenon had caused around P1-billion production loss in the region. Most affected are rice farmers in Iloilo province.
Since the crop requires water, the rice sector is vulnerable to the effects of El Niño.In Western Visayas, out of 300,000 hectares of rice production areas, 180,000 hectares are still dependent on rains. This means only 40 percent of rice farms are irrigated while 60 percent are rain-fed.
Recoter said the DA would like these areas to be irrigated through small-scale irrigation projects, and looked forward to the National Irrigation Administration coming up with a communal or national irrigation system.
“We’re now at four metric tons per hectare. We hope to increase by five metric tons through high-yielding varieties,” she added.
Recoter said with the onset of the rainy season, rice planting in the region will be 100 percent by August.
“By October and November, we hope there’s an additional one metric ton per hectare yield if there will be no major calamities like typhoons,” the DA official said. (With a report from PNA/PN)