Meet Mindanao’s Top Hybrid Rice Growers (Part 2)
Renerio or “Dodong” is a forester with only one functional arm. His left arm was amputated in 1974 due to a vehicular accident. He was riding in a bus from Davao City when the vehicle was side swept by another bus. Unfortunately, his arm was resting on the window and was badly damaged. He was hospitalized for 29 days and lost his left arm as well as his job at the Franklin Baker, a coconut desiccating plant.
Even before the accident, Dodong was already into part-time farming that is why it became his fall back job. Notwithstanding his handicap, he planted sugarcane and corn in a 1.5-hectare farm using traditional technology and hired farm labor. However, he had no assurance that he would always derive a good income from farming. For five years, there were times when the harvest was good, but there were also times when his crops failed, leaving almost nothing for his family.
“It (sugarcane and corn farming) was not like growing rice [using] the new technology and be assured of getting a very good harvest if you do your homework,” Dodong said.
Fortunately, his ordeal did not last long because irrigation water became available in 1979. He converted his farm into rice fields and planted IR 36. In his first year, he harvested a total of 10,230 kg or 6,820 kg/ha and this is not bad for a first timer in rice farming. Dodong said his harvest was even higher during the wet season.
How he obtained this yield, however, was not a secret. His neighbors knew he was always in contact with agricultural technicians of the Department of Agriculture in Region 11, trying to learn new rice technology from them. Of course, agricultural technicians are encouraged to help farmers who are as aggressive, receptive and innovative as Dodong. What more could agricultural technicians ask for if the farmers they are assisting apply the technology being taught to them and consequently get good yields?
From time to time, he kept changing the inbred varieties which he planted as seeds of new high-yielding varieties. Among the varieties that he planted for quite some time was IR 60.
TRIES HYBRID RICE
It was in year 2000 when Dodong started planting hybrid rice, using the public hybrid Mestizo 1. At first he wanted to plant only 1 ha because he was not yet knowledgeable on hybrid rice technology. Unfortunately, he was able to plant only 0.35 ha since the seedlings were not enough because his planters followed the old technology of planting three to four seedlings a hill at random. Thus, he planted the rest of his farm with IR 64.
From the 0.35 ha, he harvested 4,500 kg or an equivalent of 12,857 kg/ha. He realized that the grains of hybrid rice are heavy, resulting in a high yield. Thus, he decided never to plant inbred rice again.
For three consecutive seasons, Dodong planted Mestizo 1. His second crop, however, was infected with bacterial leaf blight, which he failed to control because he was still learning the technology. He harvested a total of 18,360 kg or 12,240 kg/ha, which was still a good harvest considering that this was only his second season. In the third season, he harvested a total of 15,180 kg or 10,120 kg/ha.
Because of his declining yield from one variety, he decided to switch to Bigante in the fourth season. That was after Bayer CropScience Philippines technicians offered to give him free seeds, fertilizer (2 bags 17-0-17), and granular insecticide for one-half hectare. He decided to plant his whole farm with Bigante and got a total of 15,480 kg or 10,320 kg/ha, which was comparable with his previous yield from Mestizo 1.
Just like with Mestizo 1, however, Dodong’s yield from Bigante was declining. In his second season with this variety, he harvested a total of 13,860 kg or 9,240 kg/ha. This was followed by 13,603 kg from 1.5 has or 9,068.7 kg/ha in 2005.
Even if his yield was declining, Bayer CropScience Philippines conferred on him the Higanteng Am Award, second place for Visayas and Mindanao, on April 29, 2005.
Last season, he harvested a total of 14,152 kg or 9,435 kg/ha. Dodong said he will now plant Bioseed 401, a new variety from Bioseed Philippines with a potential yield of 11 tons per hectare.
As a graduate of a season-long field school on integrated pest management, Dodong keeps on monitoring his farm and its surroundings for pest and disease incidence. Although he doesn’t like to apply pesticides on his crop, if possible, he has to do so when necessary because farmers around him keep on spraying their crops, resulting in buildup of insect pests and diseases.
While he thinks he has already learned much of the hybrid rice technology, Dodong still attends seminars and regularly listens to a radio farm program that is aired every 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning in Davao City. “There’s no other way of learning more of the new rice technology except to attend seminars and training courses, and to listen to farm broadcasts,” he said.
Indeed, these two farmers in Davao del Sur should very well be emulated by others who wish to make their lives better.