DA cites Bicol as country's top organic rice producer

Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:53 AM    Views : 1186by:Balita

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 24 –- Organic farming is a field in agriculture where Bicol topped last year, the Regional Field Unit of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here said on Wednesday.

In 2012, the region produced 74 percent of the country's total production of organic rice to top other regions and contributed 44 percent in Philippine production of other organic crops, according to DA Bicol regional executive director Abelardo Bragas.

Bragas primarily attributed these accomplishments to the establishment of a 100-hectare technology demonstration farm in Bula, Camarines Sur, that revitalized organic agriculture in the region.

Established within the 800-hectare Pecuria Rice Central that the Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. (PDCI) is tending in Barangay Lapigna, Bula, the demo farm has been producing high-yielding organic and aromatic rice varieties called JM2 and Basmati.

PDCI is the leading single producer of organic rice in Bicol and among the five certified organic collaborators chosen by the DA nationwide for its Development of National Organic Rice Seed Production Systems with Informal Sector project.

The other four, Bragas said, are the Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija, Kahariam Realty and Farms Inc. in Batangas, Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, Inc. and Bios Dynamis of South Cotabato.

"We are doing this project pursuant to the Philippine Organic Agriculture Law which encourages propagation, development, implementation and promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines, among other things," Bragas said.

The project is being implemented by the DA-RFU's Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Dante Fidel, the national seed coordinator and BPI in charge of agriculture, said the seeds produced from this techno demo farm are procured by the DA and distributed as starter seeds to farmers engaged in aromatic rice production.

"This is a model farm that demonstrates the unity of Bicolano farmers evidenced by the success of PDCI toward the region's commendable rate of rice production," he added.

Bragas said DA's revitalization of organic agriculture in Bicol and the entire country is part of the Aquino administration's National Rice Program.

The program aims to increase production towards rice-self sufficiency of the country and generate more income for Filipino farmers.

The PDCI organic agriculture demo farm is the second existing in Camarines Sur.

The first is the four-hectare rice farm established in Barangay Binanuanan Sur here by Carmela Cervantes, a faculty-researcher at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture.

The farm, certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines, is now a popular destination of people who want to learn and adopt organic farm systems.

It serves as a laboratory cum training farm showcasing sustainable agriculture through natural farming technologies.

"We are expanding in organic farming this year with the P6-million upland rice organic farming project in Bicol to further boost the region's hefty contribution to national rice production," Bragas said.

Under this project, the region's organically-produced upland rice would be further developed for its market potential as some of these traditional strains have been reported to "outperform some modern rice varieties," he said.

The advantage of these traditional varieties is in higher grain production and drought tolerance which has become a critical trait amid the prevailing climate change threats,.

Upland rice varieties generally have an average yield of only one to two metric tons per hectare, but selected Bicol varieties, which the new DA projects will use in reviving vast upland rice farms in the region, can exceed such yield average, according to Bragas.

Upland rice production is ideal since it can make up for any shortfalls in flood-prone lowland irrigated areas.

This is specifically during wet season cropping when flooding in lowland prevails.

Uplands are now rice production frontier in Bicol as its yield has the potential to improve through improved varieties and cultural management practices that suit the soil, climatic, and social conditions.

The upland rice program is fully supported by government as sanctioned by the Organic Agriculture Act (OAA) of 2010 and the adoption of organic agriculture has been a proven approach for increasing productivity and income.

OAA aims to enrich soil fertility, reduce pollution and farming's environmental destruction, prevent natural resources depletion, save on imported fertilizer, and protect the health of farmers and consumers alike.


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