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Embracing farm consolidation and clustering in rice farming, the Department of Agriculture-XI (DA-XI) has developed a 100-hectare model hybrid rice farm in Compostela, Davao de Oro.

DA-XI Regional Executive Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., in an interview said that the farmer-beneficiaries of the Community Hybrid Rice Farm (CHRF) will not only receive production support but also the technical and marketing services.

“Aside from the free bags of hybrid rice seeds and fertilizers they received, we also tied-up with the private sector specifically the seed companies where our rice seeds came from, to provide technical support to our beneficiaries through free consultation from land preparation up to harvesting. This is based on DA Secretary Dar’s Big Brother-Small Brother Approach in agriculture,” said Oñate.

DA will also conduct enterprise skill training and even coordinated with the LGUs to provide transportation support and the Rice Processing Complex (RPC) for the processing of their palay.

“The goal is to transition our farmers from a mere producer to rice traders of their own palay. What we want from farmers is the continuous support and the commitment to learn.” Oñate added.

He also stressed the importance of high-yielding technologies such as hybrid rice varieties in achieving optimum rice yield and secure the rice supply in the region.

“Based on studies, hybrid rice yield is 15 percent higher than the ordinary rice varieties or best inbred rice certified seeds. This potential has made hybrid rice a major component in government’s strategy in increasing production given the limited land area harvested to rice. An increase in harvest also translates to lower cost per unit output, thus higher farm income,” he said.

The town of Compostela, Davao de Oro is just one of the two areas for consolidated and clustered rice farms in the region. The other one is located in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.

The CHRF must have a minimum of 100 hectares of rice farm within 20 km radius and situated in a locality wherein soils and microclimate are highly suitable for hybrid rice production.  Community members are willing to participate in hybrid rice production and register in the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA).  It must also have access to better-paying and premium markets and be accessible for field days and field visits so other farmers could also learn from their good practices.

“Farm consolidation is part of the new thinking for agriculture espoused by DA Secretary Dar as it promotes economies of scale. It also makes farming more efficient through scaling-up technology adaptation to reduced cost and improved farm productivity,” Oñate said adding:

“Farm consolidation would require farmers to co-produce in groups of contiguous farms with synchronized activities based on group production plans.”

Rice farmers under CHRF may also propose for repairing and upgrading of existing facilities and expanding live of machinery to cater for the holistic requirements of the community. (Celso C. Vergara, DA11)