DAET, CAMARINES NORTE – Rice farmers from the 12 municipalities of Camarines Norte had a firsthand account of the 100-hectare Hybrid Rice Techno Demo in barangay Awitan this town. This was made possible through the Farm Walk which started on March 15 and culminated by a harvest festival on March 28, 2022.

Seventeen (17) hybrid rice varieties were showcased by seven rice seed companies under contract with the Department of Agriculture RFO 5 Rice Program to supply the hybrid rice seeds to the 110 farmer cooperators. The DA also provided the  farmer cooperators with free fertilizers and other inputs, while Provincial Government of Cam. Norte and Municipal Local Government Unit of Daet facilitated the establishment of the techno demo and provided the farmers with technical assistance.

The seven rice seed companies and hybrid rice varieties were:  Syngenta (NK 5017 and S6003), SL Agritech (SL19 and SL20), Seedworks (Quadro Alas, US88 and TH82), Leads Agri (Jackpot 102), Bayer (AZ 8433 DT, Habilis, Bigante Classic and Bigante Plus), Corteva (PHB73 and PHB85), and Longping (LP937).

Each morning starting March 15 until March 24, 2022, 30 rice farmers each from the different municipalities of Camarines Norte, were invited for a farm walk around the 100-hectare demo area to witness and evaluate the performance of the different hybrid rice varieties. Using a rating card provided by the DA, each farmer rated the rice varieties based on their preference.

During the harvest festival, Cesar Miraña, Rice Program Provincial Report Officer presented the result of the farmers’ evaluation. The top 5 varieties chosen by the farmers during the Farm Walk were: 1st – SL-19  by SL Agritech (75%); 2nd– PHB 15 by Corteva (60%); 3rd– Bigante Plus (58%) by Bayer; 4th– Jackpot (55%) by Leads Agri; and 5th– NK 5017 (52%) by Syngenta. 

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla who personally visited the techno demo area on March 25 heard the gripes of the farmers on the low buying price of palay and high cost of inputs, thus he promised a second round of Hybrid Rice Techno Demo in the wet season cropping to cover over 300 hectares.

Daet Municipal Agriculturist Edna Aguila disclosed her agreement with RED Tornilla and added that there will be a twist in the strategy to include retailers and traders.

Earl Vincent Vegas, DA RFO 5 Rice Program focal person said that Camarines Norte was chosen for the techno demo because of its very good performance in rice production.

Engr. Almirante Abad, Provincial Agriculturist of Cam. Norte lauded the rice farmers for using hybrid rice. He said that in CY 2022, the province surpassed the 100% rice sufficiency level and the average yield of rice in all ecosystems in Cam. Norte was 4.8 MT per hectare based on PSA reports. Engr. Abad added that the techno demo was conducted to encourage more farmers to use hybrid rice. “Gumamit tayo ng hybrid rice para mapataas ang ani at masulit and mahal na abono. Dahil pag mataas ang ani, kahit malaki ang gastos ay malaki pa rin ang kikitain ng magsasaka,” he stressed.

Marcial Bustarga, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer (APCO) of Camarines Sur who represented DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Marcial Bustarga congratulated the 110 farmers cooperators for their bountiful harvest. He also thanked the PLGU of Cam. Norte and MLGU of Daet for accepting the challenge of organizing the techno demo.

Barangay Captain Meliandro Ebona of Awitan expressed his gratitude to the DA and LGUs. “Ito po ay isang hakbang ng Agrikultura na magpapayaman sa aming mga magsasaka dahil dodoble ang aming ani” he said.

Also present during the harvest festival were Camarines Norte Provincial Administrator Robert Sale; Vice Gov. Jonah Pimentel; and Municipal Agriculturists who accompanied their rice farmers.

Representatives from DA attached agencies and other stakeholders were also present. Gabriel Atole, Regional Officer of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) which constantly monitors the supply and prices of fertilizer in the region. He imparted some tips to save on fertilizer such as conduct of soil analysis; balanced fertilization or use of foliar fertilizer as alternative fertilizer; and hastening of decomposition of rice straw through the use of trichoderma. 

(Lovella P. Guarin DA RAFIS 5 / photo credit: Eduardo Collantes Jr., Ramon Adversario Jr.)