Press Release
April 18, 2008

Loren urges non-palay farmers to also plant rice Cites high-yield, soil fertility benefits of crop rotation

Senator Loren Legarda urged today all Filipino farmers, including those who plant vegetables and non-palay crops, to also plant palay using crop rotation techniques in order to help ensure ample supply of rice in the country.

Legarda noted that of the country's total agricultural land area of 9.9 million hectares - about 33 percent of the country's land area - less than half are planted to palay.

"We can ensure 100 percent rice sufficiency without resorting to imports if all non-palay farmers will also include palay in their seasonal planting schedules," said Legarda.

"Doing so might even transform the Philippines from a rice-importing to a rice-exporting country," she added.

Legarda pointed out that palay has become a high-value crop that should interest even non-palay Filipino farmers. Rice is getting tenders of over $700 per metric ton in the international market, she noted.

Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar crops in the same farming space in sequential seasons.

The founder and chair of the environmental organization Luntiang Pilipinas, Legarda explained that crop rotation avoids excessive depletion of soil nutrients and reduces farmers' dependence on non-organic fertilizers and pesticides.

"The practice has various advantages, including the removal of pathogens and the dispersal of pests associated with particular crops," Legarda said. "Agriculturists maintain that crop rotation also improves soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants.

In line with her call for non-palay farmers to also plant rice, Legarda lauded tobacco farmers for undertaking on their own a rice-producing program covering an initial 935 hectares, with plans to expand coverage to 3,335 hectares.

The expanded hectares would produce 16,675 metric tons of the staple, said tobacco members whose rice-producing program is under the auspices of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA). The tobacco farmers are asking the Department of Agriculture to support their program.

Farms being tilled by 6,670 tobacco farmers in Abra, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union and Pangasinan are being eyed for the expanded rice-producing program.

Legarda noted that tobacco farmers had been producing rice even before the rice crisis, adding that other non-palay farmers should follow suit.

"Our tobacco farmers say that they have been averaging 5.2 tons of rice per hectare in the last nine years against the national yield average of 2.9 tons per hectare in rain-fed areas. The high yield by tobacco farmers may be due in part to the benefits afforded them by crop-rotation," she said.

News Latest News Feed