Planting next generation rice varieties could be our farmers best defense against the influx of imported rice.
While the lifting of Quantitative Restriction on rice and the signing of Rice Tariffication Law will open the gates for coming in of more cheaper imported rice but Filipino farmers can still compete if they plant the suitable and palatable varieties in their area.
Speaking during the Field Day on Next Generation Rice Varieties held February 20 in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, Department of Agriculture (DA) Research Chief Melani Provido said farmers including millers and traders should keep an open mind on the emergence of next-gen rice varieties not only of its yield performance but also its high acceptability among local rice consumers.
These next generations of rice were developed using recent advances in plant breeding to make high yielding and climate change -resilient varieties available to Filipino farmers.
The Department of Agriculture XI through its Research Division in cooperation with Rice Banner Program, PhilRice, and the local government of Magsaysay established the demo farm in Brgy. Poblacion and New Ilocos to showcase the performance of nine promising rice varieties.
Among the varieties tested in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur include Rc402, Rc438, Rc440, Rc442, Rc480, Rc358, Rc400, Rc436, and Rc27. The Barangays Poblacion and New Ilocos in Magsaysay are one of the 11 next-gen rice demo farms established in nine towns across the region.
"These varieties were subjected to science-based evaluation and showed promising results including its palatability tests. We urged our partners from the local government as well as our seed producers to help us promote these rice varieties for our farmers to plant it and rise above the challenges that confront our local rice industry," she said.
"Karon na wala na'y limit and importation sa bugas, mag divert na sa pagtanum sa bag-o ug maayong varieties nga lami kay mao ni ang ginapangita sa mga consumers. [Now that the importation of rice will be unlimited, our farmers should divert in new varieties with good performing and palatability as these are being sought by our local consumers," said Arthur Ramon, farmer-cooperator from Brgy. New Ilocos.
Cherlito dela Cruz, farmer-cooperator in Brgy. Poblacion observed that Rc436 has softer grains than Rc160, Rc27 is drought-tolerant, Rc358 has a maximum tillering capacity, and Rc400 is high-yielding but late maturing.
Noted rice plant breeder and farmer Dr. Edwin Hondrade in the same event said farmers must choose the right and suitable varieties. "There are varieties that are suitable either during the wet or dry season. There are also varieties that have good performance in both seasons. The declining area planted to rice can be overcome by increasing yield per unit area through high performing varieties," he said.
Various rice farmers, seed producers, and technicians from major rice producing areas in Davao Region participated in the next-generation technology demo and seed production field day. 

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