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Friday, October 21, 2011

DA undertakes ‘QTA,’ ratooning to increase 2012 1Q palay harvest

The Department of Agriculture will undertake a quick turn-around (QTA) program and ratooning starting November to produce more palay (paddy rice) during the first quarter of 2012, and offset losses wrought by recent typhoons.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has instructed the DA regional field units and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to facilitate rice planting in as many areas as possible until next year’s main cropping season under the QTA program.

NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said a minimum of 50,000 hectares in Luzon, served by the Pantabangan and Magat irrigation systems, are ready to implement the QTA program from November this year to February next year.

For Visayas and Mindanao, national rice program coordinator Dante Delima said an initial 100,000 hectares of rain-fed farms are targeted for ratooning, where an average yield of 25 cavans per hectare is expected.

Ratooning is a technology where remaining stubble or rice stalks are allowed to re-generate tillers and grains, with the application of fertilizers (one bag of urea or complete fertilizers per hectare). Ratooned rice are ready for harvest after 45 days.

“This early, DA Western Visayas has committed 50,000 hectares to be ratooned this season,” Delima said, as he assured the agency will provide the necessary farm inputs like certified rice seeds to interested farmers.

Nangel, on the other hand said, “following Secretary Alcala’s orders, our reservoir areas covered by the Pantabangan and Magat irrigation systems are ready to implement a QTA program this November to February next year for the first cropping season, with a 100 percent expected production output.”

“The second cropping season will be from April to July with an expected 50 percent output because of the expected rains, and the third cropping season will be from September to December, also with a 100 percent production output,” he added.

With its proposed 2012 budget amounting to some P24.7 billion, NIA targets to irrigate a total of 250,000 hectares of farmland.

“With our targeted cropping intensity of 150 percent, we expect 100 percent palay production for our irrigated areas of 250,000 hectares during the rainy season, and 60 percent or 150,000 hectares for the dry season, for a total harvested area of 400,000 hectares,” Nangel said.

“Computed at a modest 4.5 tons or 90 cavans of rice produced per hectare, the irrigated areas could generate 1.8 million metric tons of rice, which is our contribution to the rice self-sufficiency program of the Aquino government,” he added.

Despite the reduced expected palay (paddy rice) harvest for the latter part of this year caused by typhoons Pedring and Quiel, Secretary Alcala remained optimistic in achieving rice-self sufficiency targets by the end of 2013.

“The temporary setback has all the more strengthened our resolve to do more, and strongly pursue our interventions in the next two years,” the DA chief said. DA Information Service

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