SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—To Chinese professor Yuan Longping, the acknowledged developer of hybrid rice and a 2001 Magsaysay awardee for government service, rice wastage should be condemned and must be considered a crime.
“Rice wastage is criminal,” Yuan said in a forum at the opening of the First National Hybrid Rice Congress here on Wednesday.
A fact sheet circulated during the congress said about
P6.2 billion worth rice is wasted in the Philippines yearly.
“Each Filipino wastes about two tablespoons of rice daily,” it said.
Yuan’s statement was preceded by his presentation on the world rice situation, including the need to produce more rice to avert a crisis and efforts to produce a rice variety that can yield more harvest for farmers.
“We need to produce 60 percent more rice in 2030 than what was produced 23 years ago,” Yuan said.
More to feed
At present, a hectare of land used for rice production can provide food for 27 people, he said, adding that in the coming years, the same area will have to support 43 people.
Yuan, an agriculturist, scientist and educator, succeeded in the early 1970s in developing the first hybrid rice variety in his country, helping China attain food sufficiency.
Now the director-general of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center, Yuan said China’s super rice breeding program has achieved an average yield of 13.5 metric tons (270 cavans of 50 kilograms each) per hectare.
Research and development is ongoing to increase this average yield, he said.
Yuan said the Philippines could be self-sufficient in rice in the next five years through hybrid rice seeds.
Outside China, countries using hybrid rice are India (1,800,000 ha), Vietnam (700,000 ha), the Philippines (191,000 ha), Bangladesh (800,000 ha) and the United States (400,000 ha).
Yuan said the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center has trained more than 3,000 researchers, technicians and agricultural officials from 60 countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
In Pangasinan, Sen. Francis Escudero on Thursday said the country could have long attained rice self-sufficiency if it invested enough in the agricultural sector.
Escudero said when his father, the late Salvador Escudero III, was minister of agriculture under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the area of irrigated land in the country was about 1.3 million hectares.
Thailand and Vietnam, which are the leading rice-exporting countries today, only had less than a million hectares each of irrigated farms.
“Today, after 27 years, our irrigated land is still 1.3 million ha,” Escudero said. “Thailand now has 9 million ha and Vietnam has 11 million ha of irrigated land.”
Based on Department of Agriculture data, the country produced 18 metric tons of palay last year. Some 2 million metric tons more are needed to achieve rice self-sufficiency. “We did not invest in agriculture,” said Escudero. With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon