Myanmar to tap PHL hybrid-rice seed technology–SLAC

Myanmar will plant hybrid-rice seeds developed in the Philippines to expand its paddy production and regain its status as the world’s biggest rice exporter, according to hybrid rice and seeds producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC).

SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong said President Duterte may sign a bilateral agreement with Naypyidaw for the planting of hybrid rice in Myanmar. The President left for Myanmar on Sunday.

“During our visit with President Duterte, we will talk about the planting of hybrid rice on 14,000 hectares in Myanmar,” said Lim, who joined the Philippine delegation to Myanmar, along with other private-sector representatives.

In a harvest festival held in Barangay Triala, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, last Friday, Lim said the Duterte administration has declared to expand its support for hybrid-rice expansion in the country.

The SLAC chief said the deal will allow the Philippines to help Myanmar become the world’s biggest rice exporter, a status that it used to enjoy before World War II.

Since it introduced reforms in 2010, Myanmar has opened trade to the world with many multinational firms, including Philippine-based companies.

Myanmar has around 17 million hectares of uncultivated arable plant that can be planted with rice. This, SLAC noted, is far bigger than the rice area of Thailand and Vietnam—two of the world’s major rice exporters today.

“Hopefully, the President will be able to set foot on a hybrid-rice field soon, and ensure that we won’t need to import rice,” Lim said.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol affirmed the government’s support in planting hybrid rice on an additional 1 million hectares when he visited North Cotabato early this month.

“The rice technical working group targets an additional area of 1million hectares to be planted with hybrid rice in the next three years. This could yield an additional 4 million metric tons [MMT] of paddy rice per year,” Piñol said.

Lim said Piñol and Duterte are expected to visit hybrid-rice fields on April 5, when the most successful hybrid-rice farmers’ cooperative—Nagkakaisang Magsasaka Agricultural Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative Inc. (NMAP-MPC)—would hold its own harvest festival in Tabacao, Nueva Ecija.

NMAP-MPC not only offers credit, but land preparation, milling, warehousing, postharvest and marketing services, to member-farmers in the rice central Nueva Ecija. It supplies 2,000 cavans of rice to the University of Santo Tomas Hospital every 15 days.

Ricardo Buenaventura, NMAP-MPC president, has become a model pioneer in planting hybrid rice, as he reaps at least 10 metric tons  per hectare in the dry season using hybrid-rice SL-8H. The figure is more than double the national average yield in the country, currently estimated at 3.9 MT per hectare.

Piñol is banking on hybrid-rice seeds to make the Philippines rice sufficient by 2020.

“With a milling recovery of 65 percent, the added production could yield 2.6 MMT of rice, more than enough to cover the national shortage of 1.8 MMT every year,” he said.

Lim noted the Philippines has a huge potential to succeed in hybrid-rice farming in Myanmar, after the company found this viable in a 100-hectare farm in Yangon’s Dagon township. This initiative was under a joint venture with private companies Nine Seas, led by Aung Tan Oo, and Water Ston,e led by Filipino Norberto Ong.

The expansion of hybrid-rice planting in Myanmar will likely be supported by the country’s microfinance leader, CARD, under CARD Myanmar Co. Ltd.