By MELODY M. AGUIBA
NUEVA ECIJA — The Philippines’ number one rice farmer— Fernando Gabuyo Jr. of San Jose, Nueva Ecija—is optimistic Filipino farmers can produce at least 200 cavans of rice per hectare which should contribute to the country’s increased rice sufficiency.
Gabuyo, 59, awarded almost yearly since 2003 by the government for his outstanding, nearly world record-breaking rice production of 355 metric tons (MT) per hectare yield, believes any farmer can achieve at least a 200 MT rice production given faithfulness to a few good rules and hardwork besides.
China’s world-record rice production is at 364 MT per hectare. And this is from the Chinese government’s own comprehensive effort and only at the research station.
Surprisingly, Gabuyo’s record is on a commercial farm (reaching to 10 hectares) and is already at a dryer 15.6 percent moisture content.
His secret are known to most agricultural technicians including the use of good seeds (inbred and hybrid), fertilizers, and pesticides.
But aside from these, he adds intermittent irrigation, farmers’ practice on pest control, Anaa-based growth hormones and trace minerals called "Mineral Booster," and one that he cannot do without—tender loving care translated into consistent scientific observation and remediation.
Gabuyo only had a yield of 237 cavans per hectare when he first received an award from the Department of Agriculture for the highest rice yield nationwide in 2003. He broke his own record with a 267 MT per hectare in 2004.
His good yield then he attributed partly to intermittent irrigation (alternate wet and dry soil) which he has long developed over the last 30 years that he has been farming.
"When soil’s always wet, the root looks rusty and decaying. But when allowed to have dry soil at intervals, the plant is able to breath, roots and stems are exposed to the sun and grow better," he said in an interview.
In 2005, his harvest suddenly jumped to 338 cavans and finally to 355 MT in 2007, or by almost 100 cavans from earlier harvests.
These times, Gabuyo found a partner in Philippine Orchard Corp. (POC) president Alfonso G. Puyat, a Filipino inventor who developed the Anaa-based growth enhancers which through its secondary elements (calcium, magnesium, sodium) allow enhanced chlorophyll production . That is together with the trace elements (zinc, copper, boron, sulfur, chlorine, among others) in it that also work for longer and stronger roots, stronger stem against lodging, and better-filled panicles and grains.
"Anaa has made a lot of difference in my yield," Gabuyo said.
Chemical fertilizers—the primary elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) still have to be used. This is along with added organic fertilizers— chicken manure and rice stalks decomposed faster through POC’s "Xemas," a decomposer that causes decay in two weeks instead of several months.
But chemical fertilizer use is already reduced substantially by six bags, saving cost of around P6,000 to P8,000. Moreover, growth promotants only costs a farmer an additional P1,340 per hectare to boost his yield which already includes P200 for Xemas, P180 for Anaa, P100 for Miracle Booster, and P100 for X-rice which is also for fertilizer effectivity, thick stems, and faster root growth.
Puyat discloses he has been fortunate to have Gabuyo as partner in applying POC-developed growth enhancers and probiotics.
"Mr. Gabuyo is not just an ordinary farmer. He’s an educated farmer. It pays well to know how to compute. He has very keen observation skills and is very hardworking. He was about to take an international shipping work until his father died and had to take on duty in the family farm," Puyat said.
Gabuyo finished Associate in Marine Engineering and was on an inter-island vessel before concentrating on farming.
He believes that even if farmers would only use selected inbred rice, he can substantially raise his yield to 200 cavans per hectare from the national average of only 75 cavans.
Recommended inbred seed includes Philippine Rice Research Institute’s 1163 which is resistant to many diseases including bacterial leaf blight.
Gabuyo said his use of these irrigation and growth-enhancing technologies go well with any hybrid rice varieties. He has already produced 346 MT per hectare from Bayer’s Bigante, 330 per hectare from Hyrice’s Rizalina, and 355 from SL AGritech’s SL-9.
Following instructions of technicians—such as making sure only one grain is transplanted on a hole (at a 20 centimeter distance from another plant) to make sure nutrients are not taken away by another plant—is another imperative.
A daily inspection on the plant’s rice growth is likewise a must.
"I’m focused on regularly inspecting the rice plant. Any plant needs the care of the farmer. When you visit it, you will observe any problem and you’re able to act fast to remedy it," he said.
Thursday, 3 April 2008
By MELODY M. AGUIBA