Bohol Farmers Hail New Japonica Rice
A new japonica rice variety is getting popular among rice farmers in Pilar town of Bohol. It’s because this type of rice is of high quality and commands a premium price, especially in countries where it is not traditionally grown, including the Philippines.
This rice is now popularly known as Maligaya Special 11 or MS 11, which is also known as NSIC Rc170 and IRRI 142. And the good thing is that this japonica rice can now be grown in the Philippines’ tropical climate.
MS 11 is one of the new tropical japonica rice varieties that resulted from a pilot project called Germplasm Utilization for Value Added undertaken by Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) coordinating scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna from 1992 up to the present. The project aims to develop high-quality, high-yielding temperate japonica rice cultivars that can adapt and grow in the tropical condition.
Fortunately, the Philippines has been one of the eight countries where adaptability tests for MS 11 were conducted. Local adaptation tests involved the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Dr. Jae-Soo Kim, administrator of RDA, said that MS 11 is the first japonica rice suited for planting under tropical condition like that of the Philippines.
Dr. Kim led the RDA delegation during a forum held last April at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) in Los Baños where they presented MS 11 to PCARRD officials, representatives from the Philippine-Korea Rural Development Administration Alumni Association (PhilRAA), and journalists.
“Temperate varieties do not normally grow under tropical climatic conditions. They tend to flower a month earlier in the tropical region as the temperature is high and the day is short. Also they yield little grains. In case of mid-late, varieties, it would be worse,” RDA reported.
According to the RDA report, MS 11 is a semi-dwarf variety with a culm length of 73 centimeters (cm) hence resistant to lodging caused by strong winds. Resistant to blast, it matures early and can be harvested in 106 to 112 days after planting. In the multilocational trials, it yielded an average of 4.9 tons per hectare (t/ha) during the dry season and 4.2 tons per hectare during wet season.
Like the typical japonica rice, MS 11 has a round-shaped grain and a sticky texture, that’s why it is in demand in some high-class restaurants and by families that can afford its price, the RDA report added.
How did the rice farmers in Bohol get the opportunity to plant MS 11?
Bohol rice farmers’ first encounter with japonica rice happened in 2006, when the PhilRAA conducted a subproject called “Model Farm in Japonica Rice Production” in Bohol in collaboration with the International Technical Cooperation Center, Rural Development Administration, IRRI and PCARRD.
In the same year, the Bohol Japonica Rice Growers Association (BJRGA) was formed which partnered with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in the implementation of the project. The project leaders were Liza Quirog, provincial agriculturist; Larry Pamugas of OPAG; and Nador Tadena, president of BJRGA and a Magsasaka Siyentista of the Central Visayas Consortium for Integrated Regional Research and Development of PCARRD.
During the three-year (2006-2008) implementation of the project, nine model farms covering 60 hectares involving 30 farmers were established and maintained. These farms conducted adaptability trials of three japonica varieties, including MS 11. From these trials, the average production was 3.8 tons per hectare, according to PCARRD Deputy Executive Director Richard Juanillo who is also the head of PhilRAA.
Today, BJRGA has 35 members. “But there are only 29 of us at present who plant japonica rice in two cropping seasons in one year,” says Tadena, 60, of Barangay San Isidro in Pilar. Tadena is a certified rice seed producer who allotted one-half hectare from his 11-hectare ricefield to growing MS11 since it was introduced to them in 2006. As a Magsasaka Siyentista, he also plants coconut in a one-hectare area and utilizes the space under the coconut trees for banana and vegetables. He also produces vermicast which he applies on his crops.
Tadena said that he and his fellow farmers got interested in japonica primarily for its excellent eating quality that makes it quite expensive. “Polished japonica rice currently sells at P70 per kilo while palay is sold at P5 more per kilo over the price of the regular varieties,” Tadena said. He added that on the average, a farmer can realize a 50 percent net income from his total cost of production in growing japonica rice if proper cultural management practices are applied. His current average yield is 4.5 t/ha.
Tadena said that there is not much difference in the cultural management practices that he is applying between the indica and japonica varieties. But since MS11 is an early maturing variety, Tadena does the transplanting at 12 to 15 days after sowing (DAS), unlike the indica varieties that are transplanted at 18 DAS. “Thus, sideressing and the succeeding fertilizations and other operations are likewise done ahead,” he said. He has observed, however, that japonica rice recently produced fewer tillers probably because of the El Niño phenomenon.
Tadena also observed that MS 11 is resistant to lodging as well as to insect pests that he no longer needed to spray pesticides on it. Gregorio Nuez, who is one of the pioneer growers of japonica rice in Bohol, agreed to this as his japonica rice plants have good stand and are not attractive to pests.
Today, rice farmers in Bohol are looking forward to planting MS 11 in a larger area as RDA has announced that this japonica variety will soon be cultivated in 200 hectares of rice lands in Bohol. In this connection, Dr. Kim and PCARRD Executive Director Patricio Faylon have turned over MS11 seeds to BJRGA during the forum.
Earlier, Dr. Kim also handed over seeds of MS 11 to BJRGA during IRRI’s 50th anniversary celebration.
By Melpha M. Abello