TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Eastern Visayas is eyeing an 8.7 percent increase in rice production this year with the minimal impact of El Niño phenomenon in the region.

DA Regional Executive Director Andrew Orais said on Friday they are targeting to harvest 918,003 metric tons (MT) of palay (unhusked rice) this year, higher than the 844,372 metric tons (MT) actual yield in 2023.

“We expect (to) harvest more rice this year since we’re not hit by a strong typhoon. The below normal rainfall this year is just part of the normal weather condition in the region,” he said.

Based on the latest report, not one of the six provinces in Eastern Visayas is included in the list of El Niño-hit provinces in the country, he added.

Of the projected regional harvest, 480,091 MT will be from rice fields in Leyte province; 167,099 MT in Samar; 85,808 MT in Northern Samar; 71,728 MT in Southern Leyte; 56,981 MT in Eastern Samar; and 56,296 MT in Biliran province.

The DA regional office aims to surpass its 2023 rice production in Eastern Visayas to support other regions badly affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Orais said several interventions have been extended to farmers in the early part of the year to ensure higher yields this year.

Aside from providing seeds, the government continues to provide assistance through the fertilizer discount voucher program, which entitles rice farmers registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture a price cut in their fertilizer purchase.
Eastern Visayas devoted 45 percent of its land area, or 976,415 hectares, to agriculture. The rest are forest lands, grasslands, and other purposes.

Of its agricultural lands, 70 percent are for coconut production, and rice and corn in the remaining areas.