A total of 80,000 kilos of rice have been turned over by Philippines’ top hybrid rice seed grower SL Agritech Corp (SLAC) for “tasting” of soldiers assigned to Marawi in an act seeking further support to consciousness on needs on Marawi-related causes.
The P2 million worth of premium quality rice was received by Armed Forces Chief of Staff Leonardo Guerrero and Defense Sec. Delfin N. Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said the country’s soldiers have to eat whatever rice variety is available in Marawi City where some soldiers have remained after President Duterte declared fighting cessation in mid-October.
It will be a chance for them to eat export-quality rice that is shipped out by Philippines to the United States, Autralia, Europe,Middle East, and Asia.
“Masarap naman ang kinakain nila (soldiers).Pero mas masarap ito (Dona Maria rice),” he said.
Lorenzana even affirmed the need for the country to modernize rice farming practices and that of other farm commodities as what SLAC is doing. This he said is a primary goal of the Duterte administration.
On top of that, feeding people is a top peace-making effort that transcends fighting and divisions.
SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong assured that through the high yielding hybrid technology on rice, the Philippines can be self sufficient once average yield nationally hits around 5 metric tons (MT) per hectare from the present average of around 4 MT per hectare. Without he hybrids, this was just hovering at 2-3 MT per hectare.
“We are also proud that even if we are importing rice at $200 per ton, we are exporting a (high quality) rice that sells at $1,400 per ton in the world market,” Lim said, stressing importance of good taste to command a good price in the market.
Lim said it is part of SLAC’s mission to extend help for social causes even as it has started rice donation movements —Rice Bucket Challenge, Balik Biyaya – since the Yolanda typhoon hit the country.
As a separate social responsibility effort, a 50-hectare hybrid rice model farm will be put up to help rehabilitate Marawi City in a partnership of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and SLAC.
Provincial agriculturists within the Lanao del Sur are now identifying a contiguous land area in irrigated lands for the model-demonstration farm in Marawi, the biggest city in Lanao del Sur.
The model farm eyed is relatively big and may require a production cost of around P30,000 per hectare. Traditionally, technology demonstration sites only cover one to two hectares. However, in Marawi City, a bigger model farm appears to be necessary in relation to the despair and destruction of the city after going through the ravages of a five-month war, believed to be the longest in the country.
“We want to bring the message to the people of Marawi that there’s hope. SL Agritech will put in the money for this techno-demo to inspire hope,” said Lim.
SLAC is carrying out the hybrid rice planting in coordination with Go Negosyo, the city government, and the Department of Agriculture.
“Go Negosyo has asked SL to participate in the economic rehabilitation,” Lim said.
Marawi City, also known as a summer capital of the South, has predominantly cooler weather because of its higher elevation.
It is not much of a rice farming location, but there are farmers growing traditional rice varieties. The company sees its role in Marawi’s rehabilitation as an expansion of an earlier agricultural investment in likewise conflict-affected Maguindanao where it also put up a model farm.
On top of the technical assistance and financial assistance in the form of inputs (seeds, fertilizers) to be extended to Marawi City farmers, the project will link them to markets that will buy the produce.
The project will ensure that irrigation is provided to the farm despite the fact that uplands traditionally do not enjoy large irrigation supply from national irrigation systems.
“We will educate farmers here on proper farm management because some rice fields in these areas are plagued by pests (weeds and disease).We will be sending our technical experts to help them achieve a good yield,” said SLAC Consultant Dr. Frisco M. Malabanan.
The extent of damage in the war in Marawi is requiring a tremendous amount of rehabilitation placed by expert at a range of P20 billion to as much as P150 billion.
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said earlier the rebilitation may last for three years. Before 2017 ends, Department of Budget and Management will have released P5 billion for Marawi’s repair from the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Program.
The establishment of a hybrid rice model farm is part of SLAC’s support not only for infrastructure rehabilitation but economic restoration in Marawi.
Government leaders have expressed optimism on the speedy economic recovery in Marawi given cessation of conflict.
“We expect investor confidence to strengthen further and the economy to grow even faster now that the conflict has been virtually resolved and the government has started raising spending on infrastructure and human capital development, which will supercharge growth and create more jobs for our people,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said earlier. (Growth Publishing for SL Agritech Corp)
For any questions or interview requests, please contact 0929-715-8669, 0917102-6734 (Growth Publishing for SL Agritech Corp.)