P10-M fund allotted for sugarcane-rice cropping system in NegOcc

September 14, 2020
Erwin Nicavera (Philippine News Agency) | https://bit.ly/2FaJnjS

BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government has allocated PHP10 million as a support fund to the implementation of the sugarcane-rice cropping system (SRCS) in the province.

Provincial agriculturist Japhet Masculino said the amount has been allocated for the purchase of seeds and other farm inputs such as fertilizers as well as for skills development, training and promotion, and mechanization.

“We are upbeat that through this measure we can address the rice shortage problem in the province. This would mean food security and affordability,” said Masculino, who posted various updates on the SRCS program on Facebook over the weekend.

On Sunday, the head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) showed the seed production area of Hacienda Sto. Niño Farmers Association in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Talisay City intended for the next SRCS cropping.

The day before, Masculino uploaded a photo of another farm where rice crops planted alongside sugarcane are already approaching the ripening stage.

Masculino said that the Central Philippines State University (CPSU) in Kabankalan City has set up a seed bank being used in conducting trials to determine the best native rice varieties for intercropping with sugarcane.

“We are still in experimental and research stage and yet we already saw its potential,” he added.

Several sugarcane farms in Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province, are now being intercropped with rice to increase production as a strategy for rice self-sufficiency.

These are located in Hacienda Bagacay, Barangay Aranda in Hinigaran town, which is one of the pilot sites, and in other areas, which have mostly block farms, such as the cities of Talisay, Kabankalan, Himamaylan, La Carlota, Bago, and Cadiz, and Murcia town.

Earlier, Masculino said since the province is experiencing rice shortage especially during lean months, from June to August, they thought of utilizing sugarcane areas for intercropping with rice.

A previous study of the Philippine Sugar Research Institute in Victorias City showed that the intercropping system has produced 23 cavans of palay (unhusked rice) or 12 sacks of rice per hectare of sugarcane.

Together with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), the OPA is also conducting actual studies through various models on different stages of sugarcane growth.

In the eight localities, the OPA used the rice seeds provided by the Department of Agriculture, which are short-duration, from 90 to 95 days, and drought-resistant.

At least 20 hectares of the sugarcane farms in the province have been intercropped with rice, and most of these crops are up for harvest this year.