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Bongbong Marcos steps up release of fertilizer subsidies

Malacañang on Sunday said President Marcos, as concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), has enhanced efforts to provide fertilizer vouchers to farmers to help them increase their rice production.

Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil, officer in charge of the Office of the Press Secretary, said in a statement that the DA recently issued Memorandum Order No. 65 updating the guidelines on the implementation of a fertilizer discount voucher project under the National Rice Program.

The project, which covers regions with farms planted with inbred and hybrid rice seeds, except for the National Capital Region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will provide discounts on the retail price of urea fertilizers to eligible beneficiaries.

“The use of fertilizer vouchers offers an alternative to farmers with lowered purchasing power to buy a sufficient volume of urea recommended for their rice area,” MO 65 stated.

It said the overall aim of the project is “ultimately, food security.”

Easing production decline

For the 2022-23 dry season, in particular, the project aims to enable rice farmers to supplement the requirement for urea fertilizer for their rice production.

Mitigating the impacts of the projected decline in rice production due to the low usage of urea fertilizer, the program will help attain the target yield of 4.22 metric tons per hectare of palay for 2023, and stabilize the rice supply situation in the country despite challenges in the price of commercial fertilizer, the memo added.

According to the latest data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), the average price from Oct. 24 to 28 of prilled urea was P2,523.68 per 50-kilo bag while for granular urea, the average price was P2,490.35. This was down from its peak of nearly P3,000 last June but still up by 36 percent from P1,830.84 a year ago, FPA data showed.

The project has two components: first for the 2022 wet season funded under the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the second for the 2022-2023 dry season financed by the 2022 GAA and the unprogrammed funds of the DA. The department had a total of P4.1 billion in unprogrammed appropriations this year.

In determining the voucher value per cropping season, the DA said, the amount or fund source is divided into the number of hectares to be served under the project to complement the inbred and hybrid seed distribution program of the rice program.

For the 2022 wet cropping season, the fertilizer vouchers will be used by farmer-beneficiaries to claim the inorganic fertilizers, organic fertilizers, foliar fertilizers, biological fertilizers or biological stimulants at accredited merchants.

The discount vouchers will have values equivalent to P1,131 per hectare for inbred rice, and P2,262 per hectare for hybrid. The discount vouchers are for one-time use only and may be claimed at any accredited fertilizer merchant in the preferred area of the farmer-beneficiaries.

For the 2022-23 dry cropping season, vouchers may be claimed by their beneficiaries at their preferred DA-accredited dealers, distributors and outlets.

The discount voucher value will be computed based on the rice farm area, with farmers tilling half a hectare and below getting as much as P3,300 in discount and those tilling 0.51 to two hectares getting up to P6,600 per hectare.

Farmer-beneficiaries belonging to cooperatives and associations may designate an authorized representative to claim their vouchers for them.

The President last Friday met with officials of the Makati City-based Chen Yi Agventures, a leading regional rice processing center specializing in sustainable agricultural production, and listened to their proposals on how to help farmers affected by the increasing prices of fertilizers.

“This step is part of our engagement with the private sector to listen to the voices of those belonging to our agriculture sector. In relation to this, we will subject to stringent study the proposals made by [Chen Yi Agventures],” he said in a social media post. INQ

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