Agri officials making big push to enhance dry-season rice harvest

Agri officials making big push to enhance dry-season rice harvest

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will meet with rice farmers to identify strategies to boost production for the dry-season crop.

In a special order, the DA authorized the Masagana Rice Industry Development Program (MRIDP) to consult with the rice industry to identify and map areas deemed vulnerable during the dry season.

According to the government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), droughts and dry spells brought about by El Niño will affect about 63 provinces and dampen their rice output.

PAGASA expects El Niño to intensify this month, persisting until May.

It added that the consultations will develop plans for distributing seed, fertilizer discount vouchers, soil ameliorants and biocontrol agents.

The Visayas agriculture cluster, which includes Region 6,7, and 8, will meet on Jan. 9, while the Mindanao cluster meeting (Regions 9 to 11) will meet on Jan. 11.

It added that the date has not been set for the Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Region 5 cluster meetings.

The MRIDP aims to stabilize the rice supply at between 24.99 million metric tons (MT) and 26.86 million MT, in the process lowering growth in rice prices to less than 1% annually.

It also seeks to increase farmer incomes by 54% and ensure adequate reserves held by the National Food Authority. — Adrian H. Halili