Farmer Makes Submerged Ricefield Productive by Planting Sub 1 Rice
Submergence of crop has always been the biggest problem of farmers in low-lying areas. So farmers in these places usually plant less — or something not plant at all – during the wet season for fear of incurring huge loss.
Barangay Papaya is one of the low-lying towns in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, and it unfortunately serves as the catch basin of neighboring municipalities. At the onset of the wet season almost 60 percent of the town’s ricefields are already submerged for more than a week, and water depth reaches 1.5 meters.
Farmers in Barangay Papaya are despondent as far as rice production is concerned. Alfonso Bayangat, for instance, left the 2.3-hectare rice farm of his children idle for four years as it had always been submerged during the wet season.
In the 2008 wet season, however, he took the risk of planting rice as he realized the need to make their farm productive. He planted IR64-Subl. It’s a submergence tolerant variety that the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the International Rice Research Institute IRRI), and the Municipal Agriculture Office of San Antonio started to introduce along with submergence-tolerant lines Swarma-Sub 1 and Samba Mahsuri-Sub I to farmers in San Antonio before the 2008 wet season.
Called Implementation Plans to Disseminate Submergence-Tolerant Rice Varieties and Associated New Production Plans Practices to Southeast Asia, the introduction is a project of PhilRice and If-’,R] and was funded by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Just as Bayangat had expected, his crop—-1.5 ha of which–had been submerged ~for eight days due to heavy rainfall. Many farmers went to see his crop when the water started to recede for they wanted to know if IR64-Sub I can really survive, and it did. So he seemed to hit the jackpot when he harvested 182 cavans weighing 58 kilos each plus 20 cavans from ratoons from all of which he earned more than P40,000.
“IR64-Sub I is indeed flood-tolerant,” Bayangat said.
Thanks to the discovery of the submergence gene, farmers like Bayangat are given hope. According to Dr. Nenita V. Desamero, PhilRice plant breeder and team leader of the on-farm testing of submergence rice in the Philippines, its discovery has paved the way for the development of the submergence-tolerant rice lines such as IR64-Sub 1.
IR64-Sub1 is the popular rice variety IR64 inserted with the submergence tolerance gene or Sub 1, which IRRI and the University of California-Davis have discovered from an Indiah variety FR13A. IRA64-Sub 1, says Dcsamero, is a non-genetically engineered rice plant that can survive, grow, and develop even after 10 days of complete submergence.
The new rice line is not totally different from the original IR64 variety in terms of
morphological characteristics as plant height, tillering, and yield performance. So if planted under favorable condition, with or without the submergence gene, explains Desamero, IR64 would yield as much as IR64-Subl yields which is 4.5 t/ha. But when both are submerged for 7 toy10 days, IR64-Subl can survive and recover.
“Normally, rice at the tillering stage can only survive for one week under submergence condition, while seedlings can only last for three to five days.” But more than these, adds Desamero, submergence can be highly damaging to the crop resulting in yield losses. Thus, the development of submergence-tolerant varieties is indeed a great help to farmers in low-lying areas.
By Hanah Hmm Biag