A 2,000-hectare rice area will be aided in hybrid rice planting in Yolanda typhoon-damaged Leyte by SL Agritech Corp (SLAC) even as donated seeds are still insufficient to restore Leyte’s 60,000-hectare rice land.

In partnership with local government units (LGU) particularly the Leyte provincial agriculture office, SLAC is extending a Plant Now Pay Later (PNPL) program to Leyte rice farmers.

“Leyte farmers now do not have the resources. We will provide the needed technical assistance to the farmers who experienced damage to their rice farms from the Yolanda typhoon,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong

The agriculture/” title=”View all articles about Department of Agriculture here”>Department of Agriculture (DA) and its regional field unit (RFU) in Region 8 are identifying for SLAC the farmers that may avail of the PNPL. The farmers may just pay for the seeds upon harvest.

Leyte Provincial Agriculturist Rogelio Portula said that while many organizations have donated rice seeds to Leyte province, there is still a need for more seeds and even for technical assistance on rice farming in order to restore Leyte to its pre-Yolanda condition.

“There are more rice seeds needed especially for farmers that have more than two hectares. We are only giving them free seeds for up to two hectares per farmer so that everybody will benefit,” said Portula. Among the organizations that donated seeds to Leyte are the Food and Agriculture Organization and DA.

SLAC Hybrid Rice Specialist Frisco M. Malabanan said SLAC’s aid to farmers will also focus on technology training since Leyte farmers would not have much difficulty on irrigation.

“The ongoing cropping is the wet season in Leyte, so water is not so much a problem,” said Malabanan.

However, Portula said there is a need to clean up some irrigation canals that have been clogged by felled trees, fallen roofings, and other obstructions from the typhoon. Irrigators associations are conducting the repair of these canals.

There are 34,000 hectares of irrigated land in Leyte and 23,000 hectares of rainfed land.

Portula said FAO’s seed donation for inbred rice may reach to 22,000 bags. Even with this donation, there remains to be 35,000 hectares that need seed financing.

“We are thankful for the many donors. But the donations are not enough to fill the requirement for seeds,” Portula said. “Three days after the typhoon, the seeds that had been stocked for planting were milled because there was nothing to eat.”

The provincial agriculture office has so far obtained some SL-8H and SL-18H seeds that are expected to help double farmers’ rice yield from around four metric tons (MT) per hectare to eight MT per hectare.

SLAC is also looking at entering into Public Private Partnerships in order to beef up support to Leyte.

One organic fertilizer producer, Black Water Dragon Agri Venture, is willing to partner with SLAC on providing a whole package of inputs and technical assistance to farmers, according to Portula.

The hybrid seeds SL-8H which has tolerance to bacterial leaf blight (BLB) and SL-18H that has more intense resistance to the BLB pest are seen to enhance help to farmers in this current wet season in Leyte.

Malabanan said a crop insurance should also be provided to Leyte farmers at present since the wet season exposes them to more risks of weather loss.

“I think crop insurance is needed there now when it’s very wet,” said Malabanan.

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For any questions or interview requests, kindly contact Ms. Analiza C. Mendoza 0921-338-3816, 0916-266-6604. This press release is also available on http://growthmagph.com/?p=149.