The Bicol Region registered 4.01% growth in palay at 1,346,952.44 metric tons and 3.81% growth in corn production at  292,748.28 metric tons in 2021, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Palay output increased by 91,960 metric tons which is 4.01%  higher  than the 1,294,991.12 metric tons output in 2020, while corn production also increased by 3.81% from 282,000.57 metric tons in 2020, despite the still raging covid-19 pandemic,  strict border controls and difficulties in logistics in 2021.

The province of Camarines Norte registered the highest  increase (7.17%) at 116,292.63 metric tons in 2021; Camarines Sur registered 5.04% increase at 683,203 metric tons; Sorsogon with 3.97% increase at 150,793.40 metric tons; Albay also increased by 3.95% in 2021  at 224,533 metric tons; Masbate recorded a 0.50% increase at 148,754 metric tons. Meanwhile, Catanduanes contracted by -13.48% at 23,376 metric tons.

On the national scene, the 2021 palay harvest was an all-time high at 19.96 million metric tons, which is 3.45% higher than the 2020 output of 19.29 million metric tons says Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla said that the 2021 palay output is the second all-time high in Bicol since 2011. The region attained the highest production in 2018 at 1,350,438.32 metric tons.

Tornilla attributed the significant rice and corn sector performance to the hard work and resiliency of the Bicolano farmers and industry players, and the timely delivery of interventions particularly in clustered areas. There are 20 cluster areas in rice while 60 cluster areas in corn in Bicol as of this writing.

The average yield per hectare of palay also increased by 4.20% from 3.74 metric tons in 2020 to 3.89 metric tons in 2021. Camarines Norte registered the highest increase in yield by 10.59% at 4.88 metric tons/Ha.

All other provinces except Catanduanes also registered an increase in yield: Camarines Sur by 4.93% (at 3.94 metric tons /Ha); Albay by 4.45% (at 4.19 metric tons /Ha); Sorsogon by 1.47% (at 4.39 metric tons /Ha);  Masbate by 0.70% at 2.83 metric tons /Ha. Catanduanes yield in rice contracted by -8.24% at 2.78 metric tons /Ha.

Earl Vincent Vegas, the current Rice and Corn Program focal person said that the increase in yield could be attributed to the 20,000 hectares additional area planted to hybrid rice. Camarines Sur has the highest area harvested to rice at 172,208 hectares which also increased by 0.11%.

Vegas also said that for 2021, the National Rice Program distributed a total of 126,962 bags of rice seeds consisting of  93,039 bags commercial hybrid rice; 5,193 bags  public hybrid, and 28,730 bags certified rice seeds.

The Rice Program also distributed fertilizer discount vouchers to hybrid clustered areas and inbred clustered areas, although the distribution is still ongoing to complete the targeted 98,233 bags in hybrid cluster areas and 27,063 bags in inbred cluster areas.

Corn Production Performance

Yellow corn output was 220,170.50 metric tons in 2021, while white corn output was 75,577.78 metric tons.

For 2021 also, the area harvested to corn increased by 1.82%, from 106,984.99 hectares in 2020 to 108,929.87 hectares in 2021. Camarines Sur has the widest area planted to corn (47,838 hectares), followed by Masbate (38,722 hectares), Albay (20,699 hectares), and Cam. Norte with 1,029 hectares corn area.

The average yield in combined yellow and white corn also increased by 1.96% from 2.64 metric tons per hectare in 2020 to 2.69 metric tons in 2021.

For 2021, the Corn Program distributed 41,930 kilograms of various corn seeds (OPV, glutinous, hybrid and genetically modified hybrid yellow) including 10,050 kgs of station-produced certified corn seeds (white corn flint and glutinous variety).

 (Lovella P. Guarin / DA – RAFIS 5) (Sources: PSA, DA 5 Rice and Corn Program)