Farmer and Son Find IRRI-Bred Flood-Tolerant Rice Sturdy
Flood is one big problem of rice farmers in Barangay Papaya in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija. The place is low-lying so when it rains heavily ricefields here are submerged for more than a week, with water depth reaching 1.5 meters.
Like other farmers in the community, 74-year-old Aquilino Sicat and his son Mario have tried flood-tolerant rice. But of all the varieties he and Mario have planted in the 2008 wet season, says Aquilino, only PSB Rc68 rice survived.
According to Dr. Nenita V. Desamero, plant breeder at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), this is because PSB Rc68 is tolerant to abiotic stresses, particularly drought and submergence. So it is no wonder that Aquilino’s crop survived after being submerged twice in 1-meter water depth for a week.
“PSB Rc68 is really sturdy,” says 37year-old Mario. It is not susceptible to diseases and stress, particularly to the golden apple snail infestation, he adds. Moreover, it does not lodge and has bigger grains, hence more and more rice millers and traders prefer it over other submergence-tolerant rice varieties.
Why wouldn’t they? This variety that is bred by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is well suited to rainfed lowland, and is also good for dry-seeding culture. It yields an average of 3.4 tons per hectare, matures in 116 days, and grows as high as 116 cm.
Aquilino learned of PSB Rc68 when he participated as a farmer-partner in a farmer field school in June 2008. It was for a project of PhilRice and IRRI on disseminating submergence-tolerant varieties and related new production practices.
Today, farmers in Barangay Papaya gather at his farm to learn new farm technologies as the community learning center has been established there through the project and the San Antonio Municipal Agriculture Office. His farm has been chosen also as a technology demonstration site for submergence-tolerant varieties such as PSB Rc68.
By Hanah Hm Biag