More agricultural inputs, as well as expanded rice areas, led to a 4.23 percent increase in palay (unhusked rice) production in Western Visayas in the first quarter of 2021, figures from the Department of Agriculture (DA-6) showed.

Data as of June 15 showed that a higher yield was produced from 196,570 hectares of area harvested in all six provinces of the region, with additional 4,235 hectares resulting in an increase in production volume and a growth of 0.7 metric tons (MT) per hectare yield across ecosystems.

From January to March, Iloilo led the national chart in unhusked rice production, producing 355,040 MT.

Despite the reduction in area harvested of 377 hectares, the Panay Island province posted a 6.46 percent increase in production, and its yield grew to 3.8 MT per hectare in irrigated areas and 3.31 MT per hectare in rain-fed communities, based on the data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Capiz came in second, with 119,637 MT production volume, although this declined by eight percent compared to last year’s output.

Meanwhile, Negros Occidental recorded 77,550 MT in palay production; Antique, 65,235 MT; Aklan, 22,794 MT; and Guimaras, 14,122 MT.

In the first quarter, only Iloilo and Antique posted positive growth in production and yield performance.

Elmer Cabusas, DA-6 regional rice program focal person, said the increase in palay production can be attributed to the expansion of rice areas, particularly in Antique, where an additional 8,363 hectares of agricultural areas were devoted to palay.

He added quality seeds and fertilizers as agricultural inputs to farmers had influenced the overall palay production performance, along with a good climatic condition.

Rice farmers availed of free seeds and fertilizer under the Rice Competitive Enhancement Program (RCEP) and the Bayanihan Rice Resiliency Project 2 intended to boost rice farming during the dry cropping season.

Some 65,805 bags of certified seeds under RCEP, and 55,732 bags of hybrid seeds under the National Rice Program and Bayanihan 1 and 2 funding as well as 162,425 bags of fertilizer were distributed to the farmers in Western Visayas.PNA