Guv finds means for farmers to cope with high input cost
By Rizalie A. Calibo
Dumaguete City (21 August) -- Alongside the spiraling prices of fuel and other commodities is the doubling of price of fertilizer. And for small farmers like here in Siquijor province such is a daunting news.
Data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority shows that the cost of major fertilizers as of August 4-8, 2008 has increased by almost 200 percent compared with prices in 2006. A bag of complete (14-14-14) for instance, is now sold at an average price of P1,933.33 in region 7 from P746.21, Ammophos (16-20-0) at P1,846.67 from P734.32 and diammonium phosphate (18-46-0) at P3,230 from P1,353.17.
"To compound their lot even furthermore, the farmers who are tilling their farms are under severe strain from the rising cost of farm inputs, hobbled by antequated farming methods and their crops stunted by irregular climate patterns," no less than Provincial Governor Orlando A. Fua Jr. noted in his State of the Province Address (SOPA) recently.
It is where the government comes to the rescue. Placing agriculture first in the priority, the provincial government with full backing from Congressman Orlando a. Fua has striven hard in finding means that enable farmers get handsome returns in yield and income.
"If the fertilizer has risen by 200 percent over what it cost two years ago, then we will harness technology to manufacture our own fertilizer, for it would be near impossible to register profit in any agricultural enterprise if we depend solely on commercial fertilizers," the governor said.
He cited the newly-built Bio-N plant in Tagmanocan, Lazi, Siquijor that in a matter of 3 months has gained dramatic returns.
The governor cited that for every 6 bags of commercial fertilizer at P2,000 per bag that a farmer applies per hectare (P12,000/hectare), he would need only 6 packets of Bio N for a similar size of farm land at P60 per packet or only P360 all in all. "He saves P11,640 farming input per hectare, a sizeable amount in these difficult times," he said.
So profound, Fua said, is the impact of the plant today that our farmers ar producing more than our neighbors viz-a- viz the size of landholdings. "Their crops are lush and thick, the stalks of rice and corn bowing with the weight of grain, the governor said adding that the farmers' association manning the plant has received an order of 10,000 packets of BioN from the Regional office of the Department of Agriculture plus another 16,000 packets from the office of Congressman Fua which will be given for free to local farmers.
This is on top of the fertilizer subsidy that the national government gives to farmers, as part of its relief to the rising costs of farm implements. Earlier last month, the Department of Agriculture has distributed fertilizer discount coupons to Siquijor farmers. Lazi town has an allocation of 300 coupons; Maria, 200; Enrique Villanueva, 10; San Juan, 35; Larena, 130 and Sqiuijor town 102 coupons.
With the coupon, the farmers will have to pay only P500 per sack for a P2,000/sack of fertilizer because the P500 is sponsored by the national government and P1,000 by the provincial government.
The government has also earmarked P9 billion for the National Seed Program in the next two years.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap disclosed that the government is spending P9 billions for the National Seed Program alone over the next two years in subsidies coming from the earnings from the Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) on oil products.
Yap revealed that some P1.68 billion in windfall earnings from the 12% E-VAT on oil products will augment subsidies for palay farmers starting this wet season or main crop.
He explained that said subsidies for palay farmers are in the form of certified seeds to increase rice sufficiency and providing food on the table of every Filipino family.
Yap said that another P6.5 billion is being allocated by President Arroyo for the intensified palay procurement program of the National Food Authority this main harvest season, with the NFA to purchase as high as 500,000 metric tons (MT) from farmers.
The NFA procurement target, he said, is about 1,460% higher than the 32,044 metric tons of palay it acquires from local growers at the government support price during the same period last year.
For the dry crop in 2009, which will cover 1.80 million hectares of land, the DA is poised to distribute seed subsidies to farmers so they can plant hybrid seeds in some 300,000 hectares and certified seeds in 1.50 million hectares.
Such subsidies coming from the "Katas ng VAT" will given at an equivalent of P1,500 per farmer/hectare for those planting hybrid seeds or P1,200 for those planting certified seeds, Yap said.
He said that each sack of certified palay seeds under the subsidy program can generate up to 120 sacks of palay or 60 sacks of milled rice.
At the onset of the dry or summer crop, President Arroyo has ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase the food agency's buying support price to P17 per kilogram.
The President also directed the DA and NFA to increase the latter's support price for corn from P8.50 per kilogram to P13 per kilogram for white corn and from P7 to P10 per kilogram for yellow corn. (PIA) [top]