By Zac B. Sarian
HYBRID RICE CONDITIONING FACILITY LAUNCHED – Photo shows Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan (3rd from right) switching on the R80-million hybrid rice seed conditioning facility of Bayer Crop Science in the company’s headquarters in Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna last January 26, 2018. With the facility, Bayer Crop Science will be able to increase by 30 percent its supply of hybrid rice seeds that will have higher purity and improved germination rate. Currently, Bayer Crop Science is contributing about 30 percent of the hybrid rice seed supply in the Philippines.
VISITORS TOUR MODERN FACILITIES – Attendees of the inauguration of Bayer’s rice seed conditioning line included farmers, seed distributors, government officials and other stakeholders. Here, some of them are shown inside the cold storage facility that can accommodate 450 tons at any one time.
QUALITY HYBRID SEEDS – With the new rice seed conditioning facility of Bayer Crop Science, farmers can expect seeds with improved purity and higher germination. Arize Bigante Plus is an all-time favorite because it is resistant to bacterial leaf blight and is also very high-yielding. Photo shows seeds in sacks inside the cold storage facility.
TOP HONCHOS OF BAYER CROP SCIENCE – Photo shows two of the top executives of Bayer Crop Science in the Philippines. At left is Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of the company, while at right is Recher Ondap, Bayer’s Head of Seeds Philippines. They are targeting a 30 percent increase in hybrid seeds a year from Bayer with the newly inaugurated conditioning line facility.
CARTONS OF HYBRID RICE SEEDS – Photo shows cartons containing 15 kilos each of hybrid rice seeds ready for shipment to clients. The 15 kilos are enough to plant one hectare. Planting can be done by transplanting seedlings in the field, or it can be done by direct seeding. Bayer has come up with a practical system of manually direct seeding hybrid seeds.
HYBRID RICE PRODUCTION A MUST – During the inauguration of Bayer’s hybrid seed conditioning line, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan stressed the need to plant more hybrid rice in the Philippines to make sure of a more stable food supply in the country. He said that the Philippines cannot afford to depend largely on imported rice because it is very risky. Because of climate change and other factors, one can never be sure of adequate rice supply in the world market. He hailed the new facility installed by Bayer Crop Science as this could significantly boost rice production in the country.
Higher volume of hybrid rice seeds with higher purity and improved germination rate are what Bayer Crop Science promised to deliver as it inaugurated last January 26 its $1.6 million seed conditioning line facility at its headquarters in Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna.
Currently contributing 30 percent of the total hybrid rice seed supply in the Philippines, the company is targeting 30 percent increase in seed production annually in the coming years. This is necessary because from the current area of 500,000 hectares devoted to hybrid varieties today, the Department of Agriculture is targeting to increase the area to about one million hectares by 2020.
At the rate of 15 kilos of seeds per hectare, the one million-hectare target will require 15 million kilos of seeds. And since the average yield of two tons per hectare (2,000 kilos) for seed production, the target of one million hectares will require 7,500 hectares to produce the seeds required. Currently, much of the hybrid seeds in the market are sourced from abroad.
But Bayer is embarking on a program of producing seeds locally. This year, it is starting with a production area of 100 hectares in Banay-banay, Davao del Sur. Each farmer cooperator plants only about one hectare so he could adequately attend to the strict requirements of rice seed production. Bayer experts will be constantly giving them technical guidance.
The company is also scouting for additional areas for the production of seeds in Luzon, according to Recher Ondap, Bayer’s head of Seeds (Philippines). Bayer’s new conditioning facility has a capacity of processing 3,000 tons a year or 3 million kilos. That is good for planting 200,000 hectares or 20 percent of the area targeted by the government.
DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan who was asked by Sec. Manny Piñol to attend the inauguration of the facility in his behalf, stressed that the Philippines cannot afford to be depending largely on imported rice to ensure food security. That would be very risky because nobody can be sure if there will be enough supply in the world market because of various factors like the impact of climate change which can trigger disastrous calamities like floods, typhoons, droughts and other stresses that can adversely affect rice production.
Cayanan pointed out that the volume of rice traded in the market today is just about 36 million tons and the 34 million of that is already committed. Hence, there is an urgent need to produce more rice locally.
The hybrid rice program of the government will not only ensure a more stable food supply. It will increase job opportunities, especially in the countryside that will result in what politicians and agribusiness experts call inclusive economic growth.
Farmers who are planting hybrid rice, especially the varieties with enhanced traits for high yields, can really make a good income. Take, for instance, Bayer’s Arize Bigante Plus which is tolerant to the bacterial leaf blight disease. It was the top yielder in the 4th National Rice Technology Forum Bicol Cluster done in Balanguibang, Polangui, Albay in October 2016. The variety yielded 7.64 metric tons per hectare which gave a net income of P70,747 at a production cost of P36,213.
By the way, aside from Usec. Cayanan, the inauguration of the facility was attended by local government officials, seed distributors and other stakeholders. Aside from Recher Ondap, other top executives of the company included Amit Trikha, Bayer Crop Science Head of Seeds for the Asia Pacific, and Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead of Bayer Crop Science.