Philippines’ first radio program dedicated to creating awareness on raising farmers’ income, rice sufficiency, and the country’s capability to export rice through superior breeds will go on air on July 28, 2012.

“Usapang Hybrid Rice” will air for the first time on July 28, 2012 at 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and every Saturday thereafter over DZAR Sonshine Radio 1026 khz.

It is an information and education program of SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC), a hybrid rice pioneer not only in the Philippines but in South East Asia (SEA).

“We want to reach out to our farmers who need to learn effective ways of growing rice. It will create jobs that generate higher income for farmers. We want to see more farmers that drive their own SUVs (sports utility vehicle) that also help in their farm productivity,” said SLAC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Henry Lim Bon Liong.

Hybrid rice may become a major contributor to making the Philippines a net rice exporter which is a primary aim at present of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Hybrid rice farming is in line with the government’s aim to export rice at a bigger volume as hybrid rice can yield six to 10 tons per hectare as against usual inbred rice yield of three to four tons per hectare.

“Hybrid rice is our hope in becoming a rice exporter. We can only be competitive in the world market with hybrid rice. It will bring down our production cost close to Vietnam’s very low P8 per kilo, said Lim.

“Yet we’re able to produce higher-quality rice, the tender and aromatic type hybrid rice for the benefit of our rice-loving consumers,” said Lim.

Dr. Frisco M. Malabanan, SLAC hybrid rice specialist and co-host of Usapang Hybrid Rice, said there are significant potential expansion areas in the country particularly in Visayas and Mindanao where farmers still find it difficult to make a good income out of farming.

Potential areas that can raise farmers’ income mainly through SL-8H hybrid rice seeds include Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Davao and Cotabato provinces, Sultan Kudarat, and Zamboanga.

“In Bohol, we just started with 40 hectares. In the last season, the area expanded to 1,300 hectares as many government officials—mayors, baranggay chairmen—and farmers saw how much the rice harvest piled up one cavan upon the other,” said Malabanan.

In Nueva Ecija where the largest hybrid rice area in the country can be found, farmers now earn P50,000 per hectare from hybrid rice, Malabanan said.

Having taken the risk in pioneering hybrid rice research and commercial release, SLAC has contributed to the country’s becoming the fourth largest hybrid rice-producing country in SEA region in 2004 at 208,000 hectares.

To co-host Usapang Hybrid Rice are former National Food Authority Administrator Jesus T. Tanchanco and DZAR “Bukid at Buhay” host Susie Carpio.

Among the skills to be learned from Usapang Hybrid Rice are land and seed preparation, transplanting hybrid rice, irrigating, care against pests, and harvesting.

An interactive program that encourages farmers and farming enthusiasts to learn by asking questions, DZAR telephone lines will be open to inquiries through telephone numbers 801-9836, 836-3875, 822-1464, and 0927-540-2241.

Listeners can win the raffle prizes like hybrid rice seeds and Dona Maria premium long-grain rice by participating in the program.