By Cristina Frediles
With more than 500 rice varieties, the three nationally recommended varieties [NSIC Rc 222 (Tubigan 18), Rc 216 (Tubigan 17), and Rc 160 (Tubigan 14)] complement the cravings for good taste and yield of a farmer and seed grower from San Jose Occidental Mindoro.
Krenz Michael Saligumba, 26, farmer, had tried and tested the three varieties. His favorites are Rc216 and Rc 160. Saligumba craves for varieties that bring more profit. For him, farming is business. Hence, he prefers what’s in demand in the market, high yielding, and adaptable to the environment.
Saligumba started managing their family’s six-hectare (ha) farm in 2015. According to him, rice consumers prefer soft, steamy, fluffy white rice. “Rc 216 and Rc 160 answer the demand for good taste of consumers while Rc 222 brings more yield,” Saligumba shared. For him, this rice combo is a “win-win” strategy for farmers to earn more.
When Rc 222 created buzz owing to its yield potential, Saligumba first tested it in 600 m2 at 2 kg rate. He harvested six sacks at 60 kg per sack. “I’m impressed with its yield potential and resistance to pests but most of rice consumers prefer soft, white, and delicious rice,” said Saligumba. For Saligumba to earn in Rc 222, he sells it as seeds to other farmers or traders.
Rc 222 is a variety bred by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) released in 2010. It has an average yield of 6.1 t/ha and maximum of 10 t/ha. The variety is moderately resistant to brown plant hopper and green leafhopper.
Demand for soft and white rice
Rc 216 and Rc 160 is Saligumba’s rice combo for good taste. Before harvesting season, buyers come to Saligumba to buy his produce. He sells it at P60-P70 per kilo.
Rc 216 was released in 2009. On the average, it yields six tons and 9.7 tons at most per hectare. It is moderately resistant to brown planthopper, green leafhopper, and stem borer. When cooked, it is moderately soft.
According to Thelma Padolina, research fellow from PhilRice, Rc 216 is the result of cross breeding PJ7 and Matatag 1. PJ7 is a widely adapted variety, early maturing, has excellent milling recovery, and resistant to white stem borer in the irrigated lowland ecosystem. “The only downside is it’s highly shattering,” Padolina said. To solve the shattering issues, PJ7 was crossed with Matatag 1, which resulted in the breeding of Rc 216, an excellent variety in terms of yield and grain quality.
Just like Rc 216, Rc 160 commands a good price with traders. According to Saligumba, traders and millers purchase Rc 160P1 at a higher price than other varieties because of its high milling and headrice recoveries. Rc 160 grains is long and slender, tender and delicious, said Saligumba. “Rc 160 has heavy grains which means better yield and income for me,” he added.
Rc 160 yields at 5.6 t/ha and 8.2 t/ha maximum per hectare. It matures at 107 days after seeding if direct seeded and 122 days if transplanted. It has an intermediate reaction to blast, bacterial leaf blight, and green leaf hopper. On the other hand, Padolina warned farmers not to grow the variety in tungro-stricken areas as it is susceptible to the disease.
Let’s do the math
Maria Lim Lañada, 56, from San Jose Occidental Mindoro, has been a seed grower since 2003. According to her, demand of Rc 216 as certified seeds in Mindoro is high. For a hectare, Lañada’s yield reached 120 sacks, equivalent to 6,000 kgs. Each 40 kg sack of certified seeds is sold at P1,520. This means P228,000 gross income. With a P60,000 production cost, a net income of P168,000 can be earned.
On the other hand, Saligumba sells his Rc 216 as rice and half of it as good seeds. “If only we had storage area for rice, we could have obtained 91 sacks of rice and sell it at R2,000 equivalent to P182,000,” Saligumba narrated. With R50,000 production cost, his net income could have been P118,400.
This is one of his goals for 2019. For now, he’s happily contented to P90,000 as his net income for both rice and seeds.
Learn thy strategies
To ensure quality of seeds, seed grower Lañada use madre de cacao to prevent weevils. She put madre de cacao leaves below the wooden palette and in between sacks of her seeds. She also sprinkles 1 kg ground pepper, or paminta, in her storage to avoid rats.
When asked how often she gets visits from seed inspectors, she said at least three times: after transplanting, flowering stage, and seven days before harvesting. “It’s very important to rouge your rice plants during pre-flowering, flowering and before harvest,” Lañada said. According to her, roguing, or the removal of undesirable plants, is very important to maintain varietal purity.
On the other hand, Saligumba advised farmers to prepare the land before the water comes. “My farm is rotavated before the water comes so when the water arrives, I immediately harrow it and mix it with organic fertilizer,” shared Saligumba. According to Saligumba, the said practice ensures thorough decomposition of plant residues, reduction of pests, weeds, and water loss, efficient nutrient uptake and uniform water distribution and crop maturity.
“There are other better yielding, tasting, and pest resistant rice than the three nationally-recommended rice. But we must choose rice varieties that suit our environment, (is) resistant to pests and disease, and in demand in the market,” Saligumba advised.
With the right choice of rice variety and proper care management, rice is a good business after all.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2019 issue.