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Irrigating Bohol’s vast rain-fed rice farms
« on: October 05, 2011, 07:52:02 AM »
by Bohol Standard

A key agriculture official admits that irrigating Bohol’s vast rain-fed rice farms can increase the average harvest in Bohol.

This as a PhilRice executive director revealed that Bohol’s 2.5 tons average is the smallest production yield in the country, a fact that local aggie authorities point to factors contributing to the low yields.

The 2.5 tons per hectare roughly translates to 50 bags of 50 kilos per hectare, explained Engr. Eugene Cahiles of the Agricultural Promotion Center (APC).

Bohol Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) head Engr. Maximino Servillon said that Bohol has about 30,000 rainfed farms producing much lesser compared to the 19,000 irrigated rice fields averaging a little more than the 2.5 tons per hectare yield.

This is also despite Bohol boasting of about three mega irrigation dams, a good number of small-scale irrigation systems and small water impounding projects (SWIP).

APC manager Engr. Eugene Cahiles bared that of the about 50,000 hectares of rainfed and irrigated ricefields, only about 15,000 hectares are planted with hybrid and certified rice seeds.

According to Cahiles, certified rice seed adoptors easily make 4 tons per hectare while hybrid adoptors could make much more.

He cited that in Lila for example, hybrid adopters harvest 11 tons per hectare while the least yield still wen as high as 4 tons.

Here, other farmers do not follow the recommendations of the DA, use the right fertilizer and follow the schedules when to apply the fertilizer, according to him.

Independent analysts have also assumed that the increase in rice sufficiency recorded in Bohol could be attributed to the government subsidy on hybrid and certified rice seeds.

The past agriculture department leaders have subsidized fertilizers at half the cost, a huge reason why adoption has increased.

Since then, with hybrid and certified rice seeds not suited for replanting, adoption dropped which may have resulted in even lower harvests, analysts assumed.

Engr. Cahiles also said aside from low adoption rate for better yielding seeds, farmers also do away with the right fertilizers and applying them at the right time.

Because of this, Cahiles said that a government support on building small farm reservoirs for small-scale irrigation projects instead of building new dams is a better and faster, less expensive option to increase the yields.

We would rather fund the rehabilitation and restoration of old irrigations systems over building new one while the move for the more logical small water impounding systems could be pursued, said Cahiles.

A small water impounding system costs about 20,000 per unit and this can irrigate about 10 hectares, he said.

Even then, Cahiles still challenged private sector investors in making certified or hybrid rice seeds available for the farmers, while urging for more available services from financial institutions.
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