New rice varieties raises hopes of Maguindanao farmers PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 September 2013 12:48

If peace and the good weather will continue, farmers in low-lying areas in Maguindanao will have rice surplus and extra earnings for the schooling of their children with new, pest-resistant rice varieties they have lately been propagating in their farms.

There are farmers now in Datu Saudi town — that had suffered from previous incursions by members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters — that tell of having had better yields in their latest harvest, after testing new rice varieties being promoted by the government.

The massive introduction to Maguindanao and other provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao of high-yield rice varieties by the administration of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman is in line with the national government’s Food Staple Sufficiency Program, according to Makmod Mending, Jr., the ARMM’s regional agriculture secretary.

A Moro farmer, Guiamat, 37, who had tried the new rice varieties, had told officials of the ARMM’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries  he had harvested 9.5 tons of grains from each hectare of his farm during the latest harvest season.

Guiamat’s neighbor, Katutang, who is also a rice farmer, said he had produced 10.1 tons of grains from every hectare of his rice farm.

Samad, a 43-year-old Moro farmer in Datu Saudi town, is optimistic he can recover in the next two harvest seasons the losses that he incurred from armed conflicts that thrice devastated their village in recent months if the peace now in their municipality continues.

“With the tranquility we now enjoy, government interventions intended to alleviate us from underdevelopment can take off without any disruption,” Samad said in the Maguindanaon dialect.

Kadiguia Rakman Abdullah, chief of DAF-ARMM’s Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division, said farmers that may wish to learn more of their new rice varieties just have to see the agricultural technicians working in their respective municipalities, who, in turn can provide them necessary assistance and interventions.

All of the barangays in Datu Saudi, a rice-producing town in the second district of Maguindanao, were badly affected by members of the BIFF in 2011 and in ugust to September in 2012.

Mending led over the weekend the first ever “rice harvest festival” in Datu Saudi to showcase how local officials and the ARMM are cooperating in restoring normalcy in conflict-stricken rice-producing areas in the province.

The festival was also graced by Datu Saudi Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom, Abdulrashid Ladayo of the ARMM’s Cooperative Development Authority, and representatives from the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mending said Mangudadatu’s office has been helping rebuild farming communities in the province through his free orchard, oil palm, and rubber tree seedling dispersal project, which started as early as 2010, during his first term as provincial governor.

“Our latest projects in Maguindanao and other ARMM provinces are parallel with the development roadmap being pursued by the governor of the autonomous region, Mujiv Hataman, which involves Moro farmers and the local government units,” Mending said.

The rice harvest festival in Datu Saudi  sought to highlight the successful introduction into the area of high-yield rice varieties recommended by the central office of the Department of Agriculture.

“If our farmers will continue to propagate these rice varieties, we are sure to have a considerable volume of rice surplus in Maguindanao in the coming months,” Mending said.

The rice farms in Datu Saudi that were planted to high-yield varieties amazingly had an average  9.6-ton harvest per hectare, higher by almost two tons compared to previous harvests.