December 8, 2022
Cotabato rice farmers show that rice self-sufficiency is possible

MinDA Media Team photo

A community of Ilocano farmers in Manubuan, Matalam, Cotabato are on their way to rice self-sufficiency with accessible irrigation water, high-yielding seeds, sufficient soil nutrients, and farm equipment.
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The Manubuan farmers have proven that with the needed interventions, they could double and even triple their production. (MinDA Media Team photo)

A community of Ilocano farmers in Manubuan, Matalam, Cotabato are on their way to rice self-sufficiency with accessible irrigation water, high-yielding seeds, sufficient soil nutrients, and farm equipment.

Manubuan irrigators association president Tranquilino Polanco, a retired public school teacher and former vice mayor of Matalam, said the P7-million Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) is the key to their multiple cropping.

Their annual yield, he added, had also increased from three to 21 metric tons per hectare.

“Before, we were only able to plant once a year, minsan kung mahina ang ulan (sometimes when the rain is scarce), failure pa,” Polanco said.

In 2017, after President Rodrigo Duterte launched the SPIS Program of the Department of Agriculture, a small budget was allocated for the experimental phase of the new technology.

The construction of the Manubuan SPIS started in January 2018 and was completed three months later.

By April of 2018, the farmers were planting rice in a 25-hectare area.

The Manubuan irrigators also received one 50-HP tractor with rotavator, one Kubota Rice Combined Harvester, and one-kilometer concrete road pavement from the highway up to the reservoir site.

“First year namin, naka-dalawang harvest kami (During our first year, we had two harvest).”

Afterwards, Polanco said, they tried to plant three times a year, which was a success.

From three-metric tons once a year, the farmers’ production increased to seven-metric tons per harvest.

Since they harvested three times a year, the total production per hectare per year was 21-metric tons.

“Hindi pa nga kami nakasubok ng hybrid at ang gamit namin ay inbred lang na binhi (We have not tried using hybrid seeds yet and we only use inbred seeds),” he said.

The farmers are raising funds from among its members to procure additional pipes to expand the irrigation service area to at least 50 hectares.

MinDA chief Manny Pinol visited the area Friday.

During his visit, he suggested to the farmers to set a demonstration area for different early-maturing hybrid rice varieties. Hybrid seeds could produce no less than 12 metric tons per hectare.  

Rice self-sufficiency is achievable, said Polanco, adding, “our experience has proved it.”

Their only problem, he said, is the low price of palay (unhusked rice). Local traders bought their produce at P13.50 per kilo.

The Manubuan farmers have proven that with the needed interventions, they could double and even triple their production, Pinol observed.

The government has to ensure the rice farmers of a fair price for their products, he said. (John Mahusay with MannyPinol FB page)

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