Ducks help ZamboSur surpass rice target

By BONG D. FABE, Associate Editor

DUCKS has catapulted the Province of Zamboanga del Sur to the Top 10 Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards in 2012.

Zamboanga del Sur’s average rice yield of 4.2 metric ton per hectare, however, is way below Compostela Valley’s 5.2 MT per hectare in 2012. But unlike ComVal’s, ZamboSur’s rice is pure organic.

The rice-duck farming method is an “environment-friendly system that benefits both the farmers and the environment,” said Jose Apollo Pacamalan, programme director of the Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development (PARFUND), which has been teaching rice farmers this technology.

“The ducks growing alongside the rice paddies eliminate the use of chemicals; ducks eat pests, their dung fertilises the soil, and the paddling movement of their feet cultivates the soil and destroys weeds,” Pacamalan said of the Integrated Rice-Ducks Farming System (IRDFS).

Zamboanga del Sur has a total rice production area of 69,623 hectares, 2.5% of which is being targetted for full conversion into rice-ducks farms, said Provincial Agriculturist Marilyn Bersales.

“This will be enough to make the province the IRDFS center of the Philippines,” she said.

Department of Agriculture data showed that the typical Filipino rice farmer “is only 40% efficient” with only 25% of this number able to attain a harvest of 4 MT per hectare.

“If one hectare will have an average rice production of about 4.2 MT, it will be enough to make the Philippines rice sufficient by 2013,” the DA said.

ZamboSur, however, has attained this average yield per hectare as early as 2010 when the IRDFS system was officially adopted by the province, raising a hectare’s annual rice yield by as much as 10% to 15%.

Ever since ducks were integrated into ZamboSur’s rice paddies, its rice production has continually increased. In 2010, its total output was 286,754 MT and in 2011, it was 296,736 MT.

The province is also being targetted by the DA as one of the country’s rice production areas in order to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013, said Dante Delima, DA assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator.

Delima identified at least 8,000 hectares of rice cultivation in the Salug Valley in Zamboanga del Sur, which is composed of six municipalities. Potential planting areas in the area are irrigated by the Salug River.

Zambaonga del Sur was named among 10 provinces as recipients of the 2nd Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Awards last March 15. The other rice achiever provinces are Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Bulacan, Kalinga, La Union, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley. Each received P4-million worth of project grants, aside from the Agri-Pinoy trophy.

The combined rice production of the top 10 provinces was 5.34 million metric tons (MMT), or 30% of the country’s total harvest of 18.03 MMT in 2012, which is a major headway in the country’s efforts to be rice self-sufficient by this year.

The Philippines is currently 97% to 98% rice self-sufficient.

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