by Modesto Antonio G. Ibarra
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has pursued its early cropping or adjusting the normal cropping of palay from October to August scheme to preempt the occurrence of strong typhoons on September, October to November, which was implemented on 150,000 hectares agricultural farms throughout the country.
“Big losses are incurred by farmers during strong typhoons usually coming on September, October to November, so the Department has designed a program to start the planting season in April to May and harvest on August to September,” said DA Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima, National Rice Program coordinator, in an interview on Monday with reporters at the sidelines of the 114th anniversary celebration.
Delima said this is made possible by the cooperation of the Irrigators Associations who threw their helping hand by irrigating the lands to be planted as April falls on dry season.
The targeted 150,000 hectares planted with palay is now on the growing stage and as projected cropping will be in August, he said.
Delima said Region 2, particularly in Isabela, has the most lands planted thru early planting schedule, followed by Iloilo in Region 6 and Region 3. Region 12 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) followed at number 3 and 4, respectively.
”Regions 2, 3 and 6 are the usual paths of typhoons, hence it is fitting that early cropping would be held there,” he explained.
In the 150,000 hectares, targeted for early cropping, Delima said, production is expected to reach five metric tons (MT) per hectare compared to the 3.5 to 4.0 MT per hectare in normal cropping season.
He noted that Iloilo has now become the number two rice producing region in the country next to Region 3, overtaking Region 2.
Delima said this is one of the contributing factors of the five percent increase of rice production in the first half of 2012 or 306,379 MT in 2011 to 410,727 MT in the same period of 2012.
He attributed the increase in the gestation of the country’s irrigation facilities and the early cropping scheme being implemented by the DA.
Delima said the DA’s target of rice self-sufficiency by 2013 is on track as the country’s rice importation has drastically gone down from 2.5 million MT in 2009 to 500,000 million MT in 2012, as last year’s rice production has reached 16.684 million MT.