BALANGIBANG, Polangui, Albay---“Garo man sana kami nanggana sa lotto (It is like we won in a lottery),” said 64-year-old rice farmer Ariston B. Bonavente as he received a hand-tractor with trailer worth Php120,000.00 in behalf of the San Ramon-Cabangan Farmers’ Association, Tabaco City.

Bonavente’s group is one of the 14 farmers and irrigators associations in the province of Albay which received the said equipment during the Hybrid Rice Cluster Techno-Demo National Field Day on October 12-13, 2017 held at the Barangay Hall of this venue.

The field day was the culminating part of the Hybrid Rice Cluster Techno-Demonstration Field Day. A total of 420 hectares of rice fields in the whole municipality of Polangui participated in the project and showcased five commercial seed companies which include Bayer (Bigante), Syngenta (NK5017 and S6003), Pioneer (PHB77 and PHB79), Seedworks (TH82) and SL Agritek (SL18).

According to Polangui Municipal Agriculturist Alfredo A. Mariscotes, Jr., this is an off-shoot of the previous field day last year. The farmers from their municipality were convinced of the result of the hybridization program that they volunteered to have their farms as techno-demo sites for this cropping season.

Mariscotes also deployed nine agricultural technicians (ATs) to assist the farmers and ensure that the required technology be properly implemented in their techno-demo farms. Aside from the technical supervision of the ATs, the seed companies also assigned their own technicians to assist the farmers.

Polangui Hybrid Rice Cluster Coordinator Jonel V. Llagas disclosed that the farmers are now open to the adaptation of hybrid rice technology.

AT-Report Officer Corazon Ginete expressed optimism that their target yield of 10 metric tons (mt)/hectare (ha) will be attained because of the close partnership of the LGU, seed companies and farmers.

Llagas added that this wet cropping season (September 15-March 15, 2018), more farmers will engage in hybrid rice because of its high yield as seen and observed in their model farms. They are targeting 700-800 hectares of rice farms.

Although the participating farms were attacked by rats and Bacterial Leaf Blight, Llagas disclosed  that the production was not significantly damaged because of the proper cultural management and technology introduced by assisting technicians of LGU-Polangui and the private companies. As a strategy for eliminating or reducing rat infestation, the LGU of Polangui paid Php5.00 pesos for every eight tails of rat caught and brought to the MA’s office.

The income generated from the hybrid production of the farmers will be deposited in a bank and will be used in buying fertilizers and hybrid rice seeds to sustain their project.

Ryan De La Cruz of Catarman, Northern Samar and president of the Macagtas Irrigator’s Association was invited during the field day. He was impressed by the result of the project. The municipality of Macagtas has 56 barangays, however, only 30 hectares of rice lands are planted with hybrid rice because of high production cost.

Farmer-cooperator Bayani Abarquez planted Pioneer’s PHB77 variety in his 2.25-hectare farm in Balangibang. However, he tried using ½ inorganic fertilizer and ½ organic fertilizer (fruit fermented juice from molasses) in a portion (6000 sqm) of his farm. Such fertilization technique was based on the thesis result of his son. He was able to harvest 135 cavans from that portion of his farm.

Polangui Mayor Cherilie Sampal encouraged the more than 900 participants to practice and adopt the learnings they have gained during the field day. She assured the farmers of the continuous support of the LGU to agricultural endeavors. (jaysonmgonzales)