Created on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 Published Date

Palo, Leyte – The Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 8 (DA RFO 8) spearheaded the first leg of the Cluster-Wide Meeting and Consultation on Rice Industry Development in the Visayas cluster on March 21, 2023 at the Oriental Leyte, Brgy. Baras, Palo, Leyte. The conference was attended by delegates from the three Visayan regions – Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.

It was conducted to thoroughly discuss the situation, issues, and strategies in the rice industry value chain, to realize the goal of increasing farm productivity and farmer’s income. 

Leading the delegation from the DA Central Office is Undersecretary for Rice Industry Development, Leocadio S. Sebastian, wherein he presented the salient points of the Masagana Rice Program which reiterates the call of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to strengthen the value chain for all agricultural commodities, especially rice. 

“To transform Philippine agriculture, we need to focus on markets, innovations, scale, mainstreaming, and outcome,” Usec. Sebastian emphasized. He also underscored the need for a “whole-industry” approach for the country to reach a sustainable rice industry. “The focus now of the National Rice Program is not just to improve production, but to look at the whole rice industry – we will be working with the private sectors, other government agencies, and NGOs, kasama sila lahat,” he added.

To aid the regions in drafting their plans and strategies, overlay maps were presented. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management presented the Soil Fertility and Rice Suitability Map, while the Philippine Rice Research Institute presented the Rice Yield Map for the Visayas cluster. There was also a discussion on the Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) courtesy of the DA RFO 8’s Regional Technical Director for Operations, Larry U. Sultan.

The main highlights of the event were the regional presentations which revolved on their plans and implementation of key strategies for the cropping calendar. For the wet cropping season, the strategies were (1) adjusting the planting calendar, (2) convergence of interventions, (3) use of hybrid and inbred seeds, (4) adoption of the balanced fertilization strategy, and (5) drone service subsidy. 

For the dry cropping season, the strategies were (1) increasing production by optimizing yield, reducing risk, and increasing resilience through measures adapting to climate change, (2) development of economies of scale, (3) adoption of digital and information technology transformation of agriculture, and (5) shifting the program towards a holistic triple A approach: agricultural production, agribusiness, and agro-industrialization.

For Eastern Visayas, Regional Executive Director Andrew Rodolfo Orais anchored the regional plans and strategies to recover the regional rice industry which recorded a decline in production last year. As presented, the decline was caused by several factors such as low fertilizer utilization among farmers, low level of farm mechanization, quality of seeds used, and natural calamities frequenting the region.

The DA RFO 8 is eager to bounce back from last year’s lag, targeting a 5% increase in rice production for 2023. Among the strategies being pushed is adjusting the peak of rice planting season to May and June, to minimize the risk and losses during the typhoon period in October to December. 

Another strategy is farm clustering and consolidation, that seeks to maximize the limited resources in the rice industry. The DA, and its partner agencies and LGUs will converge to focus their resources and interventions to identified rice cluster areas to help them maximize their yield, and ultimately pull up the region’s rice production.

The Office of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez extended their support to the endeavors of the DA, through his Deputy Secretary-General, Sofonias Gabonada, Jr. Meanwhile, Leyte Governor, Hon. Carlos Jericho L. Petilla expressed his intent of achieving a sustainable rice industry through Provincial Administrator, Ms Cora Alvero. 

To promote one of the major milestones in the tourism industry in the region, the DA RFO 8 coordinated with the province of Samar, through Gov. Sharee Ann Tan, and the Department of Tourism RO 8 to provide the participants with a tour to witness the dynamic lighting of the San Juanico Bridge. ###

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