The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) is recognizing the pivotal role technology takes in the country’s food security as it recognizes SL Agritech Corp.’s (SLAC) Henry Lim Bon Liong for the risks he took in pioneering the hybrid rice sector.
PUP is conferring on Lim a Doctor of Science honorary degree at PUP’s Commencement Exercise on May 12, 2014.
Lim will also be the rite’s commencement speaker.
SLAC, which accounts for the supply of 60 to 80 percent of the Philippines hybrid rice seeds, has enabled the country to raise its national rice yield from three metric tons (MT) per hectare to 3.6 to 3.8 MT per hectare.
Hybrid rice technology has enabled Filipino farmers to enjoy a better standard of living with net income doubling from just P50,000 per hectare to at least P100,000 per hectare using hybrid rice seeds.
PUP has been a premiere academic institution on the sciences with its course offering in all science fields (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) and engineering and technology.
While hybrid rice seeds in the Philippines only account for around five-six percent of the country’s rice area of around three million hectares, Lim has spearheaded technology information that could expand the area.
He just led the development of a new rice variety, SL-18H, that gives a rice yield of a relatively stable seven to 10 MT per hectare. This is two to three times higher than the yield from inbred rice of three to four MT per hectare.
The introduction over the last two cropping seasons of SL-18H is a continuing effort through science and technology of Lim to give farmers better income and livelihood.
“SL-18 is the only variety now that can exceed the yield of our first hybrid rice variety (SL-8H),” Lim said.
Despite initial criticisms against hybrid rice and SL-8H, Lim persisted on showing farmers that hybrid rice is a technology that could pluck them out from abject poverty.
He has persuaded farmers that they only need 15 to 20 kilos of good hybrid seeds. This can well take the place of 50 to 80 kilos of inbred seeds and adequately earn for them an income two times that from inbreds.
Hybrids are a product of the breeding of two superior parents with outstanding traits like disease resistance, delicious taste and aromatic-smelling, and anti-lodging (resistance against wind) quality.
Lim risked his own money of at least P100,000 for the 40-hectare hybrid rice experimental farm that he put up in Brgy. Oogong, Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
He put in a few hundred million peso more for the experiments to come up with a tropical weather-suited hybrid rice that has so far then been proven workable only in temperate zones as in China.
He even took the risk against his own life as he traveled to conflict-ridden farms in Mindanao as the company put up its seed production in Banay banay, Davao Oriental.
The good result of his experiments, that now includes Dona Maria Rice (with its tagline the best-tasting rice in the Philippines, perhaps in the whole world), comes from a trusting relationship with his scientists-breeders.
His breeders were granted to him as help by Father of Hybrid Rice Yuan Longping of China who believed in Lim’s mission to contribute to reduction of global hunger.
“In three to five years, SLAC is aiming to feed 50 million people. By that time two million hectares must be planted to SLAC hybrid rice varieties,” said Lim.
PUP Regents board members are Commission on Higher Education Chairman Alex B. Brillanes, Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, Rep. Roman T. Romulo, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Arsenio M. Balisacan, NEDA Deputy Dir. Gen Margarita Songco, Science Sec. Mario G. Montejo, Philippine National Red Cross Board Sec. Corazon Alma G. De Leon, Civil Network for Education Reform President Edicio G. Dela Torre, Fed. of Alumni Association Pres. Rene A. Tanasas, Federated Faculty Assn. Pres. Edna S. Lavadio, Anak-PUP Student Councils Fed. Pres. Ma. Alexi R. Tiotangco, and PUP Board Secretary Merito Lovensky D. R. Fernandez.
For any questions or interview requests, kindly call Ms. Analiza C. Mendoza, 0921-338-3816.