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PIA Press Release

Bohol mayors asked to support rice sufficiency target for 2010

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (6 September) -- GETTING to the ground running, reinstated Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog now rolls her sleeves and gets down to business to hit an ambitious rice sufficiency in 2010.

Quirog, who assumed a regional position years back took the provincial aggie top seat and immediately presented her agenda at the monthly League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Meeting held at the Jjs Sea foods Wednesday, September 5.

Citing a finding during the recent agricultural value chain survey to lobby for more rice support, the small and dynamic agriculturist shared that Bohol grows 67.9% of Central Visayas regional rice requirement, underlining the crucial role it plays in the dream for rice sufficiency in the region.

In the general target to make the Central Visayas rice-self sufficient, regional authorities have put up a production quota of at least 2500 hectares, and Bohol being the region's prime rice producer gets to plant at least 2000 hectares within the year to raise CV production by 40%.

However, a slight El Nino hit the region and major weather conditions dealt problems on the harvest output that Bohol was not able to hit the target, she admitted.

Even then, Quirog is still hopeful that despite falling short of the 40% production increase target which they hoped to get from the 2,000 hectares of planted farms, a quick turn-around program would be enough to cover up for the lost harvest.

What Bohol fails in area planted to hit the production increase, Quirog wants to compensate by using the same planted paddies for a quick planting succession: the quick turn around formula to egt Bohol rice production going.

As to the question, will production target be met?

She said as long as the local officials cooperate by allowing more of farm-technicians' access to farmers, she said as she urged mayors to help Bohol attain the target despite the backlog.

Showing a graph to represent contrasts between farm outputs using the technical inputs from experts, the counterpart fertilizer, water management and the utilization of the right kind of seeds, the Bohol top aggie head said it could be done, with the local support, she underscored.

By that, she claimed that the present rice sufficiency of a little over 70%, could be raised to perhaps a hundred percent, even as the demand to cultivate more rice fields is slowly addressed.

In related developments, scientists are eyeing the commercial release of Golden Rice by 2011.

This, they said would further boost the government's effort to combat malnutrition and reduce the chronic micronutrient deficiency suffered by millions of children and pregnant women.

The rice variety developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is still under the process of seeking approval for distribution as it being a genetically improved rice variety.

The rice variety, now fortified with vitamin A, iron and zinc is touted as the ultimate solution to the problem of malnutrition being experienced by at least 2 billion people worldwide.

The production of stable lines for Golden Rice and fingerprinting are being undertaken while tests on the availability, safety and environmental risks of the rice variety will be completed by next year, according to PhilRice.

After these, field trials on Golden Rice will be undertaken by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) before approval could be granted by the National Biosafety Committee of the Philippines (NBCP).

A single location trial of elite lines will be done for two cropping seasons before year-end and would last until the middle of next year at IRRI's controlled-facility at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Los Baņos, Laguna.

Multilocation field trials will be conducted in 2010 to gather agronomic and biosafety data.

PhilRice is breeding Golden Rice into PSB Rc82, the most popular variety and grown all over the Philippines, and new, high-quality, multidisease resistant varieties, or the "3-in-1" rice, that combines Golden Rice with the Tungrovirus- and bacterial leaf blight-resistant varieties.

Gerard Barry, coordinator of the Golden Rice Network, said in his update on Golden Rice that he hopes national government agencies, particularly the NBCP, will approve its commercial release by 2011.

Golden Rice Network unites experts in various research institutes in the Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, India, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia.

The variety however may not help Bohol rice farmers with the existing policy that the province adopted which is the permanent ban on genetically modified organisms. (PIA) [top]

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