The Department of Agriculture said it had to double its budget for rice productivity program in 2008 to P6.5 billion to attain the rice self-sufficiency goal of 99 percent by 2010.
“We expect to meet our goal if we can put in place all the irrigation facilities we need and expand the scope of our hybrid seed program by next year,” said Frisco Malabanan, executive director of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Rice program.
For this year, P3.12 billion was earmarked for the GMA Rice Program.
In a statement, Malabanan said the DA would allot P4 billion for irrigation and P2.5 billion for the other components of the program, including hybrid seed subsidies.
Under the rice program, the DA aims to expand the areas planted to hybrid seeds from 319,000 hectares in 2006 to 500,000 ha in 2008 and 600,000 ha in 2010.
The agency is targeting to irrigate 1.3 million ha to 1.5 million ha of farmlands over the next three years.
This is seen to boost rice production to more than 19 million metric tons by 2010, Malabanan said.
When the DA started its irrigation program in 2001 and 2002, “palay” [rice before milling] production was averaging at only 12 million MT a year, he added. In 2006, production rose to 15.3 million MT.