The fallacy of hybrid rice seeds

Mar 2, 2023, 12:15 AM
Sonny Domingo

Sonny Domingo


PBBM: What's this I hear of farmers having a violent reaction to my pronouncement of converting 1.5 M hectares to planting hybrid rice to have self-sufficiency in 2 years.

KA MON: Yes, Mr. President, this is a tactical error in your rice production intervention because unwittingly you have made yourself an agent of a company selling hybrid rice seeds while causing the soil poisoning of 1.5 million hectares of previously fertile rice farms now bombarded with chemical fertilizers. You will now be opposing also the SAVE OUR SOILS MOVEMENT of trying to save our soils by phasing out chemical farming and promote natural farming using Philippine made bio- fertilizers or BioFarming Systems. (Your new appointee, Dr. Leo Sebastian can easily explain this to you as your RICE CZAR, which made farmers very happy with your appointing him since he is well- versed on the industry having been Director of the PHILRICE).

PBBM: At least this program will make us self-sufficient in 2 years’ time to replace the 3 million metric tons that we import every year. This will come from the additional production of 2 tons per hectare using hybrid seeds.

KA MON. Very true. They are pulling your legs by making you believe that by adopting their approach, the 1.5 million farmers will follow them. Truth is, farmers will accept the hybrid seeds to be milled or sold but they would still use certified seeds which they prefer hence wasting government funds in subsidizing the seeds. Furthermore, the farmers that will plant the hybrid seeds will have problems raising funds to augment the additional fertilizers needed to maximize the yields. Hybrid seeds require two times more fertilizers to double their yields. This problem in planting hybrid seeds is common knowledge that they are not telling you.

PBBM. I did not realize that. Somebody should have emphasized that to me before I made the pronouncements. Now, the farmers perceive me as anti- farmer and making their life harder. This will lead to the misuse of government funds if the farmers won’t plant the hybrid seeds given to them as a subsidy.

KA MON: You said it Sir. What’s worse is the prediction by NASA scientists that the continuous use of chemical fertilizers in the next three years will degrade the soil resulting in lost fertility, which is irreversible considering that chemical fertilizers have been used for the last 60 years.

PBBM: What then is a practical solution to avoid such irreversible consequences of poisoning our soils by using more fertilizers in planting hybrid seeds. If this is done, our next generation of farmers will surely suffer from lack of productivity.

KA MON: Better to spend government funds on irrigating additional rainfed rice areas (to increase production beyond the 2 tons per hectare they told you) instead of making a hybrid rice company richer (AND THE FARMERS POORER WITH TOXIC SOILS). On the first year just target 300 000 hectares of rainfed rice to be irrigated to produce an additional 1.2 MMT of palay per season. With irrigation the farmers can have 3 crops producing 3.6 MMT of palay per year. If we double the irrigated area to 600,000 hectares in the second year, we can have a surplus which CONSOLIDATED farmers can export under the RTL.

PBBM: And how can this be Funded?

KA MON: Simple, Sir. Other than your own source of funds from the P 100- B additional funds of DA you can ask the LGUs to also participate in their own areas using their funds under the Mandanas/Garcia ruling for localized self-sufficiency program thus making it easier for you to fund it. You can then make this replicable by encouraging the farmers to consolidate their farms into 1,000 hectares.

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