If Nueva Ecija is the rice bowl of the country, then the municipality of Guimba is the “rice bowl of the rice bowl”. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
ACCORDING to data collected by the Cooperative Enterprise of True Economic Reform (Centre), the largest cooperative in the Commune of Guimba has 15,000 hectares of agricultural land dedicated to rice production. Ninety-nine percent of this land is irrigated and can produce seven tons of rice per hectare during the dry season. This is more than the national average of 4.5 tons per hectare.
Despite high production, persistent challenges have plagued rice farmers in Guimba, such as falling palay prices, rising fuel and fertilizer costs, and rising production costs. Added to this are the problems of drought and strong typhoons, caused by climate change.
To address these challenges and foster collaboration among local actors in the region, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and the Center met with representatives from the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Philippine Rice Research Institute ( PhilRice), hybrid seed company Corteva and Central Luzon State University (CLSU) on March 21 at Myriad Farm School.
PEF, CENTER, Corteva and PhilRice are currently involved in a field trial project to test rice varieties that can produce higher yields.
At the same time, regional, provincial and municipal agricultural offices assist people’s organizations and cooperatives registered in the Agricultural Basic Sector Registry through programs that provide access to credit facilities, subsidies for fertilizers and seeds and outlets for agricultural products purchased at a higher price.
Hazel Afon, representative of PhilRice Business Development, presented the concept of industrial symbiosis in which land and labor productivity can be optimized to increase rice farming household incomes.
“The idea is that we could have successful development models documented and replicated in other parts of the country,” said PEF President Senen Bacani.