Eastern Visayas is primarily an agricultural region where its population presently totalling more than 4 million largely depend on rice as staple food. The average per capita consumption in the region is at 127 kg/year in which Biliran and Northern Samar topped other provinces at 144 kg/year, followed by Southern Leyte at 138 kg/year, Western Samar 128 kg/year and Leyte at 118 kg/year, respectively.
Out of the region’s 723,048 hectares agricultural land area, 22% is devoted to rice cultivation or 157,632 hectares. This, coupled with some other factors affecting production thus, makes rice account for the largest contribution at 21.86% to the region’s total agricultural output (BAS, 2011).
Eastern Visayas directly faces the Pacific Ocean which relatively, has consequential effect to its unique climatic condition. It receives heavy rainfall throughout the year and is sometimes visited by typhoons. It has no pronounced dry season which was found to have substantial bearing on palay production. The region’s palay production is relatively higher during January to June which contributes 54% to total palay output, while the remaining 46% is produced during July – December period (BAS, 2000-2010).
Indeed rice provide for sustenance. Apart from being a source of staple food, many families depend on rice cultivation for income. By means of applying proper rice production technologies, farmers can earn an average net income of as much as 21 to 41 thousand pesos depending on the quality of seeds planted, cost of fertilizers and other production inputs and insurance fee (AMAD, DA RFU 8, 2012). This comes aside from the employment opportunities generated in rice farming operations.
Beyond providing for sustenance, rice plays an important cultural role in the region. Growing, selling and eating rice is on hindsight integral to the region’s culture. Over in many areas of the region, culture has developed around the growing of rice, and foods made from rice which somehow became the basis for the emergence of popular festivals such as, Pintados- Kasadyaan festival in Leyte, Sangyaw in Tacloban City, Padul-ong in Borongan, Eastern Samar and such other folk celebrations featuring various expressions of gratitude to God for bountiful harvests.
What is the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program?
Guided by the principles of the Agrikulturang Pilipino (Agri-Pinoy) framework, the Rice Program in Region 8 generally focuses on raising the region’s contribution to the overall national production output by means of improving farmers’ yield, maximizing potential cropping intensity and increasing farmers’ income.
In Region 8, a Palay Agribusiness Roadmap was crafted which encapsulates the program directions, strategic interventions and a much broader base for public and private sectors partnership initiatives.
What are the objectives of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program?
Eastern Visayas has a major role towards the attainment of the overriding objective of the country’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). As such, the region’s Palay Agribusiness Roadmap aims at achieving the following:
1. To push total palay production in the region from 964,145 mt in 2010 to 1,294,977 mt in 2016; and
2. Augment income of rice farmers through yield increases.
What are the development strategies of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program?
The adoption of the cluster approach, coupled with rice projects implementation through farmers organizations will allow for, among others, a more synergistic and cost efficient mobilization of resources which augurs well for greater farmer participation. The scheme proposes the grouping of the six provinces into clusters of municipalities taking into consideration such factors as contiguity of operations and being serviced by a common irrigation facility. Moreover, the continuing support of the stakeholders themselves, particularly the LGUs and farmers’ and irrigators’ associations will play a critical role in enhancing rice productivity for the region in the next few years.
The sources of production growth being envisioned under the program are two-prong, namely: a) increase in area harvested, and b) increase in yield or productivity. The three Samar provinces occupy 51.69% of the total physical rice area, but contribute only 31.27% in terms of palay production (2012). In contrast, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran provinces contributes more to the regional output, in terms of their production, than their physical area. Hence, the former provinces will serve as one of sources of production growth. Moreover, increasing the area harvested to rice can be done through increase in irrigated area or through the transformation of rainfed rice areas into irrigated areas, which will ensure an increase in cropping intensity, thereby increasing the area harvested to more than 100%.
Table 1. Rice production area (hectares) and outputs (CY 2012 in metric tons).
While it is realized that the region cannot be totally insulated from the adverse effects of natural calamities, pest and disease infestation, etc., these development constraints are expected to be mitigated by climate change proofing interventions. These strategies to increase and sustain rice production in the region may be divided into three areas, each comprising several components. The strategies and components are mutually interactive and supportive. The three areas are listed below and the relative components outlined:
a. Raise productivity and competiveness
Raising rice production and competitiveness is a way of achieving rice sufficiency in the region. Raising rice productivity per unit area is one way of ensuring increase in farmer’s income, thereby helping alleviate poverty. Below are some of the strategies of raising rice farmers productivity and competitiveness.
1) Accelerate expansion of irrigation services, through the prioritization of rehabilitation and restoration of existing irrigation systems and quick gestation projects, construction of new systems, frontloading investments, and investment in small-scale irrigation systems;
2) Ensure adoption of suitable high quality seeds, fertilizers, and Integrated Crop Management (ICM) practices, through the establishment of an effective seed production system, community seed banks and buffer seed stocks, reducing the gap between optimal and actual fertilizer application rate, maximization of the use of farm waste and biomass, application of supplementary irrigation in rainfed areas to optimize timing and rate of fertilizer application, development of soil fertility maps for all rice-producing areas, and training and extension;
3) Sustain Research and Development in new flood resistant varieties and crop management through the development of location specific technology (LSTD), breaking down the low rice yield barriers in rainfed, upland, and adverse environments, and surpassing the rice yield plateau during dry seasons in irrigated lowlands;
4) Promote mechanization of on-farm and postharvest operations, to include the promotion of farm mechanization to bolster efficiency, ensure timeliness of operations, and lower unit costs, provision of appropriate drying facilities to reduce dependence on conventional methods, modernization of rice milling facilities to raise milling recovery rates, and provision of affordable access to farm machinery and post-harvest facilities;
5) Enhance delivery of extension services, such as the adaption of Farmers Field Schools (FFS) and other extension modalities to fit priority needs of farmers in the locality, upgrading of technical and facilitation skills of extension workers at the farm level, organizing farmers, and strengthening existing cooperatives and organizations, and strengthening of the monitoring and evaluation of rice extension programs;
6) Boost yield growth in rain fed areas, the productivity of the 87,121 hectares rainfed areas, which accounts for 55.27% of the total rice areas of the region, will be enhanced through the promotion of supplementary irrigation and nutrient management appropriate to rainfed, encourage the use of high quality seeds of appropriate rice varieties and other crops, provision of extension services and training through Palayamanan projects, and credit and crop insurance; and
7) Harness the potential of upland rice areas, to include promotion of sustainable farming practices and establishment of seed propagation and production protocols for traditional and modern rice varieties.
b. Enhance economic incentives and enabling mechanisms
This main strategy will focus on provision of affordable credit and expansion of crop insurance coverage.
1) Strengthen credit provisions to small farmers through sector reforms and innovations in delivery, to include credit sector reforms: (i) synchronized credit, guarantee, and insurance policies and programs; (ii) increased private sector participation; (iii) managed risks; (iv) enhanced service delivery, and innovations in credit delivery (e.g. Sikat Saka Hybrid Card under the FSSP Loan); and
2) Expand crop insurance coverage by strengthening institutional capacity, through increased capitalization of PCIC or/and additional funding to cover government share in insurance premium, and development and scaling up of new products (e.g. weather based insurance).
c. Manage food staples consumption
Managing food consumption relates to the conservation of rice and intensifies production of other food staples like banana, white corn and root crops. This will also strengthen national resiliency through the production of food staples that would minimize the impact of climate change and reduce the dependence on rice, ultimately reducing milled rice per capita consumption. This will include the promotion of consumption of unpolished rice or brown rice, reduction of food wastage, and diversifying food staples consumption, to include intensification of production of white corn, root crops and other staples, and its consumption in lieu or in addition to rice.
What are the priority projects of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program?
Below are the major interventions of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, in support to the increase and sustainable palay production in the region.
a. Rice Farm Mechanization Program
This will enable rice farmers to increase their access and use of appropriate production and postproduction systems as mitigation for climate change and will add income for farmers of at least 15% from efficient production activities, drying and milling operations.
i. On-Farm Mechanization Program (Grant under counterpart scheme)
Project 1: Provision of Farm Mechanization Facilities and Equipment to Farmer Associations
Primary Machineries: Hand Tractor, Power Tiller, 4-wheel Tractor (medium), Thresher
Secondary Machineries: Seed Cleaner, Reaper, Drum Seeder, Mini Combine Harvester, Combine Harvester, Rice Transplanter
ii. Postharvest Mechanization Program
Project 2: Improving the Drying Capacities of Farmer Associations/
Organization through the Provision of Appropriate Drying Facilities
Flatbed Dryer, Multi-Purpose Drying Pavement (MPDP), Mechanical Dryers with MPDP, Net/Laminated Sacks, Palay Shed
Project 3: Modernization of the Rice Milling Industry in the Philippines
Rice mill, Warehouse, Mechanical Dryer, Other Support Milling Facilities, Rice Processing Complex
Principles and Mode of Implementation:
1) Support public investments in agricultural mechanization and Research and Development and Extension support programs through aggressive technology promotion program to encourage the private sector to invest in appropriate farm machineries and postharvest facilities.
2) Promote Public Private Partnership (PPP) through counterpart scheme – The farmers organization through the Irrigator’s Associations and other Farmer’s Group shall be encouraged to give their counterpart in the project, with the assistance of the Local Government Unit if deemed necessary, to maximize the fund resources of the government and to enable the farmers to have sense of ownership on the facility granted to them.
3) Participation of rice private traders/millers in the crusade of reducing postharvest losses by encouraging them to upgrade their milling facilities through soft loan packaged by DA and other government financial institutions.
4) Social equity, sustainable and participatory development.
5) Allocation and deployment plan will be based on gaps, production, needs, impacts on yields and productivity, and technology appropriateness.
b. Small-Scale Irrigation Projects
This project will increase the current rice production areas through the provision of irrigation in areas not serviced by the National Irrigation Systems and Communal Irrigation Systems.
i. Small Water Impounding Projects (SWIP)
ii. Small Diversion Dam (SDD)
iii. Small Farm Reservoir (SFR)
iv. Shallow Tube Well (STW)
v. Pump Irrigation Systems for Open Source (PISOS)
vi. Spring Development (SD)
Mode of Implementation:
1) Each component has its own specific technical requirements for site selection, coverage area, and eligibility requirements of the beneficiaries or proponent
2) Counterpart Scheme:
SWIP and SDD – at least 10% of the total project cost
SFR – land, operation and maintenance and additional construction cost
not covered by the financial assistance of the project
STW – drilling cost of tube wells and accessories and operation and
maintenance; or 20 – 50% of the project cost
PISOS – suction and discharge pipes and accessories and operation
and maintenance for SD – cost of hauling of materials to
3) The DA-RFU 8 will accept proposals/endorsements from LGUs and Farmers Organizations for review and funding by the Rice Program.
c. Certified Rice Seeds Buffer Stocking and Rice Rehabilitation Program
This is to ensure the availability of high quality rice seeds that can be accessed by the farmers in times of calamities and unforeseen events affecting rice production.
i. Provision of high quality seed materials (Certified Seeds)
ii. Rehabilitation of Storage Facilities
Mode of Implementation
1) Seed procurement for buffer stocking will be done using the two tracts:
a. Through the DA-RFU – will procure the CS following the “direct procurement process”, then store at the RFU designated seed bodega for distribution during rehabilitation or other purposes as authorized by the Secretary (e.g. for Community-based Seed Banking)
b. Through the Disbursement Voucher System – DA-RFU will enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with an accredited Seed Grower’s Cooperative to deliver a certain quantity and quality of CS to designated drop-off points for rehabilitation purposes. At the end of the contract period, Seed Growers Cooperative will deliver the balance to the DA-RFU designated seed storage facility
2) Rehabilitation of Seed Storage Facilities – repair and improvement of DA-RFU 8’s owned storage facilities for buffer stocking purposes;
3) Rice Rehabilitation Program – Local Government Units (LGUs) can avail of the program through the submission of:
a. Rice Crop Damage Report – due to natural calamities (such as typhoons, floods, landslides, tsunamis, droughts, pest and disease outbreaks), or and man-made calamities (such as fires, chemicals or hazardous substance contamination and similar disasters), validated by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and DA-RFU 8 (thru the APCO);
b. List of Farmer-Beneficiaries; and
c. Letter of Request
d. Community-based Seed Banking Project
This is to increase and promote farmers access to quality seeds through a sustainable community-based seed bank that is organized, developed and managed by farmers, Irrigator’s Associations (IAs), Farmers Associations (FAs), Upland Farmers Organizations (UFOs), Peoples Organizations (POs), and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).
i. Provision of Starter Seeds – Registered Rice Seeds are provided as grant to Farmers/Irrigators Associations for further seed production by their identified farmer-grower for use by their members. Farmer-members avail of the quality seeds based on the agreed arrangements and mode of payment of the association.
ii. Training and Extension – ATI conducts Trainor’s Training, and likewise participants-AEWs will extend the learning to identified farmer-growers.
iii. Construction and Rehabilitation of Seed Storage and Provision of Harvest and Postharvest Equipment – Farmers Organizations with an established CSB can avail of the above facilities through its submission of Letter of Intents.
iv. Regulatory Services – focuses on the establishment of an Internal Control System for Seed Testing
v. Establishment and Management of Live Seed Banks – will serve both as seed production area and trial farms which will help in the continuous multiplication of the accepted seed variety in the community.
e. Local Farmer Technicians
This is to develop a core of qualified and trained rice farmers as partners and active players in the development and promotion of modern rice production and post-production technologies in low-yielding irrigated rice-growing barangays with inadequate LGU based agricultural extension technicians.
Composed of 2 farmers trained as local technicians, the LFT Team will undertake the following extension activities
a. Season-long PAR Tekno-Kliniks (PAR-TK) conducting Participatory Action researches or Field Studies on location-specific production and crop protection technologies
b. Season-long PTDs on Paly Check System (PTD-PC) showcasing modern irrigated rice production and post-production technologies and “best practices”.
Farmers will be selected by the DA-RFU in coordination with the Offices of the Provincial and Municipal Agriculturists based on a set of criteria. The farmers will undergo appropriate training to enable them to conduct PARs and PTDs through season-long Farmer Field Schools (FFS). The LFT Teams will be supervised by the Municipal Agriculturist. The LFTs will likewise receive monthly stipend as para-agricultural technicians in the barangays.
f. Upland Rice Development Program
This program aims to harness the potential of upland areas as source of rice production growth, increase productivity level from 1 – 1.5 t/ha to 2 – 2.5 t/ha, and develop upland communities as “self-sufficient food communities”.
The program promotes a “Farming Systems Approach” and focuses on sustainable farming practices. To avail of the program, interested LGUs with upland rice areas submits a Letter of Intent to the DA-RFU8, and DA will conduct a validation of their site and Focus Group Discussion (FGD).
g. Rice Ratooning Project
The project aims at introducing this rice produce-augmenting method to farmers, to off-set rice production losses due to calamities. Under this project, DA-RFU 8 provides one (1) bag of urea fertilizer per hectare of ratoon crop and technical expertise to farmer-cooperators.
Farmers can avail through their LGUs where their farm is located, wherein the LGU prepares the proposed list of Farmer-Beneficiaries for submission and validation by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and the DA-RFU 8. Rice crops to be eligible, the farms should be in a cluster of at least 10 hectares, with available irrigation water, good crop stand and no existing pest and diseases.
h. Research for Development
This is to narrow down the yield gap between attainable and farm-level yields across ecologies, provinces, within ecologies and the crop seasons in major rice growing areas of the region, through yield improvements. Figure below shows the process flow of the different R for D projects.
Adaptability Yield Trials: Conducted on-station, with 10-18 varieties and on-farm, with 5 to 8 varieties as entries of the trial. Also tried in flood-prone areas are submergence-tolerant varieties, and for saline-prone areas, saline-tolerant varieties.
Location Specific Technology Development: mm
Compact Technology Demonstration: Conducted on-farm to showcase 1-2 varieties for commercialization, with 10 hectares contiguous area per site.
Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR): CPAR is a platform for technology assessment involving the participation of the community together with the experts and researchers identifying the most appropriate technologies that would eventually meet the community’s priority needs.
Enhancing Productivity of Rice Farmer’s thru Diversified Farming System, Palayaman Model: PALAYAMANAN is a coined term from PALAY (rice) and KAYAMANAN (wealth), as a way of increasing farmer’s rice
i. Climate Change related Interventions
As a safeguard against the negative effects of climate change, the roadmap has the following interventions:
• Rice Rehabilitation Program
• Weather-based Rice Crop Insurance Program – In collaboration with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, crop insurance premium subsidy will be provided by the program using weather-based parameters.
• Seed Production of Climate-Change Ready Rice Varieties – Climate change rice varieties, such as submergence, draught, and saline tolerance varieties, will undergo adaptability yield trials in pre-identified areas of the region. Adaptable varieties will be propagated by the Regional Seed Network for mass production by private seed growers in the region.
Moreover, in order to offset the effects of natural calamities, the following interventions will also be implemented:
• Rice Ratooning Project – This will make use of technology of re-generating the growth of new rice tillers after the harvest of the main crop, thereby, augmenting the rice yield by about 30%. To encourage farmers to ratoon their rice crop, particularly during the months of March to May, one bag of urea fertilizer per hectare will be provided under the project.
• Rice 3rd Crop Project – This project aims to increase the cropping intensity to five crops in two years, through an additional rice crop planting during the period of August 15 to September 31. Under this project, farmers can avail of free crop insurance.
j. Extension Support, Education and Training Projects
Under this major final output, the following projects will be implemented:
• Information Education and Communication (IEC) Materials – IEC materials will be developed, mass produced and distributed to Agricultural Extension Workers and farmers, so as to update them on the latest programs, projects and technologies on rice farming.
• Capability Building Activities – Under this component, capability building activities, such as Training of Trainors, Farmers’ Field School, Farmers’ Field Days, University on the Air, Field Demonstrations and Lakbay Arals, etc. will be implemented, so as to capacitate not only the farmers leaders, but also the Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs).
• Farm Service Provider – This project aims to transform the farm laborers to become effective agents for the improvement of the farming system. Under the project the farm laborers will be capacitated and empowered with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitude through a series of capability and institutional building activities and provision of basic farm equipment, so as to enhance the quality of their service, thereby transforming them into an enterprise entity.