TACLOBAN CITY, May 25 (PNA) -– Eastern Visayas will likely produce one million metric tons (mt) of rice this year, hitting the target and sustaining growth, the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here reported on Monday.

Leo P. Cañeda, DA regional executive director, said the yield output is positive this year as more farmers use high yielding variety of seeds while the government has been stepping up the restoration of irrigation facilities, fertilizers distribution and train farmers.

“At the very least, if we will not be able to hit the target, we will be able to sustain a positive trend. The growth is not so big, but it is positive and it’s good thing to note about it,” he told PNA.

Based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) forecast, the region is on track of surpassing the 980,000 mt of rice production achieved in 2014 by a minimum of 10,000 mt, according to Cañeda.

Citing PSA reports, he said Eastern Visayas is the only region in central Philippines that will post positive output this year.

The region has 160,000 hectares of rice farms with 25 percent of areas are planted with certified seeds and hybrid seeds. A farm planted with high yielding seeds produces 10 percent to 15 percent more grains than traditional varieties.

The farm department also noted an increase of average yield per hectare from 3.4 mt right after super typhoon Yolanda to 3.82 mt this year, which means that “production level is getting back to normal.”

Meanwhile, El Niño phenomenon or prolong dry season have a very minimal effect Eastern Visayas this year with only less than one percent projected production loss.

“El Nino is not going to hit us after all, based on the latest forecast. We happen to be in the eastern seaboard characterized by wet season,” the official said.

Earlier, the DA has tagged about 80,000 hectares of rain fed rice plantations that are vulnerable to dry season. (PNA)