Western Visayas has remained one of the major palay-producing regions in the country.
In the 2021 Western Visayas Food Security Summit held recently in Iloilo City, former Department of Agriculture-6 regional executive director, Larry Nacionales, said that Region 6 has maintained its post as the third-highest palay producing region despite it being a rainfed area, a government press release said.
“The rice sector here contributes 10.48 percent to the national output with 2.29 million metric tons produced in 2020,” he said.
Rice is considered the major crop being cultivated regionwide, however, farmers are encountering low production output and yield due to high utilization of low-quality seeds, scarcity and high costs of labor, increasing prices of farm inputs, insufficient irrigation systems, depleted soil health, and the incidence of pests and diseases.
Likewise, the farmers’ profitability is also barred with inadequate marketing and post-harvest assistance.
To optimize rice farmers’ yield and income, the DA shall continue subsidizing seeds and fertilizers, train farmers and intermediaries on cost-reducing technologies and the application of integrated pest management practices, and the use of biocontrol agents.
As seed quality is tantamount to production performance, the regional DA office will also propose the revival and expansion of the Seed Exchange Program and will promote the use of inbred and hybrid seeds among farmers.
Subjecting rice areas to soil testing and adopting the rice crop manager technology are also valuable recommendations to attain competitiveness in rice farming, the press release said.
Nacionales said there is a need to rehabilitate the existing irrigation systems and construct additional facilities.
“But in some areas which are no longer economically viable to grow rice, we are encouraging our farmers to shift to other commodities, such as vegetables, cacao, and coffee,” he added.
To aid farmers in the marketing of palay and help stabilize the price, particularly during the peak of the harvest season, the DA will reactivate the operations of the rice processing centers and will extend buying capital to eligible farmers’ cooperatives and associations.
Provision of appropriate milling, drying, and storage facilities will also level up the marketability and will allow value-adding of rice, the press release added.*