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Farmer Develops High-Yielding Rice Variety
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Taikee Calleja

Agriculture institutes and multinationals usually invest million of pesos or even dollars to develop high-yielding rice varieties, which is one of the reasons why farmers are able to produce the crop at higher yields than decades back.

But can farmers themselves develop high-yielding rice varieties with the little resources they have? The answer is "yes."

One such farmer is Fernando Gubuyo, 62 years old, of Tontod, Nueva Ecija, who has been a farmer since he was a kid.

"Since I was very young, I usually accompany my father to the rice fields. Rice farming is our livelihood and I was able to make my four children graduate from college because of that," he said.

Today, Gubuyo farms around 14 hectares of lands which are mostly devoted to rice farming. A portion is devoted to vegetables like tomatoes, ampalaya, upo and pepper.

He said that he has gotten the highest yields with hybrid rice, and in 2007 he was a recipient of the Presidential Award for Outstanding Farmer.

Gabuyo said that the biggest yields he got with hybrid rice was 340 cavans per hectare, but he had to spend a lot on pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers.

He later met Alfonso Puyat who introduced him to using foliar in rice farming, which improved the rice yields in his farm.

It was from his partnership with Puyat that Gubuyo started to experiment to develop better rice varieties.

By crossing two hybrid rice varieties, Gubuyo was able to develop a variety he calls Eureka rice.

"We crossbred two rice varieties and we planted it up to the sixth generation, and we did selected breeding. That's how we came up with Eureka rice," he said.

While Eureka rice was developed from two hybrid rice varieties, Gubuyo said that the final product is an inbred rice variety because they were able to use seeds from the plant for successive plantings.

Their first trial of Eureka rice yielded 180 cavans per hectare, which is a high figure for an inbred rice variety.

Successive planting of Eureka rice from the saved seeds resulted to a yield of 240 cavans per hectare, which Gubuyo said is the "standard" for the variety. Inbred rice varieties usually yield between 70 to 100 cavans per hectare.

"Eureka rice is a blessing to farmers who rely on inbred varieties. This variety could greatly help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2013 as envisioned by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala," he added.

Indeed, Gubuyo has proven that the farmer himself can be creative in coming up with solutions not costing millions of pesos that could greatly help the Philippine agriculture sector.