SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – Despite the onset of COVID 19 pandemic on the early part of this year, palay and corn production in Bicol are up by 11% and 24% respectively in the first semester of 2020.
In its latest report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) noted that the regional palay production attained a 10.74% increase from the 2019 volume of production of 570,386 Metric Tons (MT) to 631,671 MT in the first semester of 2020. Area harvested contracted to 1.26% from last year’s 172,365 hectares to 170,186 hectares in 2020. Nevertheless, average palay yield in Bicol posted a 12.16% increase from 3.31 MT/hectare in 2019 to 3.71 MT/hectare in 2020.
On the other hand, corn registered 24% production increase from last year’s 115,815 MT to 143,521 MT in the first semester of 2020.
At the national level palay production increased by 7.1% while corn production expanded by 15.4% based on the PSA report.
All the provinces, except Catanduanes, registered an increase in volume of palay production. Camarines Sur achieved the highest palay production at 317,290 MT which is 14.3% higher than last year’s 277,519 MT as it has also the biggest area harvested (81,923 hectares) although there was a 2,175 hectares (2.5%) reduction in the harvest area in the first semester of 2020.
Albay, the second largest contributor in palay production registered a 14% increase from last year’s 85,259 MT to this year’s 97,615 MT despite the 468 hectares (3.6%) decline in palay harvest area.
Masbate is the third largest contributor of palay in the region with 77,402 MT palay production in the first sem of 2020 registering a 1% increase from its 28,229 hectares harvest area.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon recorded a 2.1% increase from last year’s 69,366MT to this year’s 70,860 MT production. The harvest area also increased from 16,683 hectares in 2019 to 16,828 hectares in the first sem of 2020.
Camarines Norte recorded a 17% increase from last year’s 46,842 MT to this year’s 54,906 MT. The harvest area also increased by 2.9% from last year’s 11,983 hectares to this year’s 12,336 hectares.
Catanduanes’ palay production contracted by 8.4% from 14,851 MT in the first sem last year to this year’s 13,598 MT. A decrease in area harvested from 5,098 hectares to 4,226 hectares in 2020 was observed.
DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla said that the increase in palay production in the region is largely the result of DA’s aggressive campaign on the use of high yielding rice seed varieties and appropriate technologies as well as favorable weather conditions.
Under the National Rice Program and Quick Response Fund, the following were distributed to rice farmers from 3rd quarter of 2019 to 2nd quarter of 2020: 76,839 bags Hybrid Palay seeds amounting to PHP384.1M; 15,226 bags Certified Palay seeds amounting to PHP23.1 M; and 467 bags Registered Palay seeds amounting to PHP0.859M, all under the implementation of Model Farms, Seed Exchange Program, Seed Reserve and Rice Resiliency Program.
The regional increase in palay production was also attributed to the high production in rainfed areas (27.57% increase) and irrigated areas (4.79% increase) which were priority in the distribution of high quality seeds under various projects of the Rice Program.
Various production and postharvest equipment and infra-facilities amounting to PHP 370.4 M were likewise distributed to the Bicolano rice farmers from 3rd quarter of 2019 to 2nd quarter of 2020.
Director Tornilla also added that the interventions extended to the rice farmers as provided under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) in particular the quality seeds and extension services are paying off. As of July 29, 2020, a total of 54,650 rice farmers have already received free certified rice seeds under the Seed Component of RCEF, which were distributed by the PhilRice with the assistance of the DA regional office.
The RCEF Seed Program was implemented under the Rice Trade Liberalization Law which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019. A total of PHP10 billion was allocated to help farmers through provision of seeds, farm equipment, training and extension services.
Lorenzo Alvina, Rice and Corn Program Coordinator of DA Bicol said that the increment in palay showed an increased productivity per unit area despite the 1.26% decline in area harvested. “A portion of the high harvest area in 2019 was due to replanting in the areas damaged by typhoon Ompong and Usman in 2018 and areas damaged by El Nino in Feb 2019,” he added.
The latest PSA data also showed that all the six provinces, except Catanduanes, registered an increase in volume of corn production.
Camarines Sur recorded a 28% increase in corn production from 75,505 MT in the first semester of 2019 to this year’s 96,717 MT from total harvest area of 23,845 hectares.
Albay recorded 15% increase from last year’s 23,370 MT to this year’s 26,924 MT from total harvest area of 12,441 hectares.
Masbate recorded a 16.6% increase in corn production from 15,410 MT in the first sem of 2019 to 17,971 MT in 2020.
Camarines Norte recorded a 35% increase in corn production (1,508 MT in 2020) in its 657 hectares area harvested. Catanduanes produced 224 MT corn from 153 hectares in 2020 while Sorsogon produced 176 MT from 84 hectares harvest area.
Alvina said that the increase in production was partly attributed to the postharvest facilities and farm machineries provided to the farmers by the Corn Program and the absence of severe weather disturbances in the first semester of 2020 except typhoon Ambo.
Corn area harvested contracted by 0.53% which can be attributed to the damage brought by typhoon Ambo in May 2020 where 349 hectares of harvestable crops from late planting were totally damaged. (Lovella P. Guarin DA RAFIS 5 – Source: PSA data and DA Bicol Rice and Corn Program)