Localized hybrid seeds boost rice harvests
The Bioseed team is developing better hybrid seeds that are more resistant to drought and diseases and identifying areas where these can proliferate; agriculturists say hybrid seeds can yield harvests four times more than native seeds, allowing farmers to maximize their available land area and help achieve self-sufficiency
Nudging agri growth Ventures from India are contributing greatly to the agriculture sector recovery. Daily Tribune Editor-in-Chief Gigie Arcilla (left) and Executive Editor Chito Lozada (right) get tips on farm productivity from Narendra Sagrolikar, country head of Indofil Philippines (second from left); Devadatta Sirdeshpande, president and general manager of Bioseed (third from left); and Jiga Causwam, sales and marketing director of Jivo Pumps. | Daily Tribune file photo
A Philippine-based subsidiary of leading Indian conglomerate DCM Shriram Consolidated Limited said it expects high local rice production through hybrid seed planting nationwide to overcome threats from weather, diseases and shrinking land areas for agriculture due to increasing urbanization.
Devadatta Sirdeshpande, executive president and general manager of Bioseed Research Philippines Inc., said its team is developing better hybrid seeds that are more resistant to drought and diseases and identifying areas where they can proliferate.
Agriculturists say hybrid seeds can yield harvests four times more than native seeds, allowing farmers to maximize their available land area and help achieve self-sufficiency.
“If you look at the landmass available in the Philippines, it’s limited. But the population is growing and you cannot grow the landmass,” Sirdeshpande said in an interview on the Daily Tribune’s online show, Straight Talk on Tuesday.
Bioseed also operates in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia and Nepal.
Genetically engineer hybrid seeds
Sirdeshpande said Bioseed’s scientists are studying to genetically engineer hybrid seeds that can survive in low-lying areas to boost rice production nationwide.
“Number one, we are also developing hybrids which can tolerate salinity, which is the major problem in the low-lying areas.”
In helping secure land areas with potentials to grow hybrid seeds, Sirdeshpande deemed the Mandanas Ruling useful, as it authorizes local government units to manage basic resources and facilities in their communities, including acquisition of hybrid seeds and designation of agricultural areas.
“With the recent Mandanas Ruling wherein municipalities have been given the authority to pick and choose good hybrids, it is an excellent approach because most of the hybrids are geography specific.”
He elaborated that “lowland rice cannot be grown in the highlands.”
Needed more than ever
As more areas in the Philippines become urbanized, Sirdeshpande said planting of hybrid seeds is needed more than ever.
“The government can still work more on securing the production areas because harvests might still be coming down because of urbanization.”
However, he remains optimistic as he observed that the government has been quick in approving permits to adopt agriculture technologies.
“The reason for us to go fast on this road map is because the facilities and the approval that we get are very fast from the Philippine government. And in fact, the Philippines is the largest area where the adoption of genetically modified corn hybrids exists,” Sirdeshpande said.
With the initiatives from Bioseed and the Philippine government, he is hopeful that the local agricultural workers will meet the national government’s goal of expanding hybrid seed planting on 1.5 million hectares of land by the end of 2025.
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