By John Noel E. Herrera
The Department of Agriculture (DA)-6 released a total of P5,851,614.78 in aid under its Fertilizer Discount Vouchers (FDVs) program to the rice farmers of Leganes, Iloilo.
Data from DA-6 indicated that the FDV program benefitted around 1,397 farmers in Leganes town who are cultivating 936.6 hectares of rice land this dry season.
DA-6 Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer for Iloilo Gareth Bayate said the fertilizer vouchers will aid local rice farmers in coping with the rising costs of commercial fertilizers that affect palay production in the region.
It would also offer an alternative to farmers with lowered purchasing power to buy a sufficient volume of urea recommended for their rice area that they could use to increase their production.
“Farmers will use the FDVs, valued at P6,600 per hectare, to claim urea fertilizers from two DA-accredited fertilizer merchants in Leganes,” DA-6 added in a statement.
Urea fertilizer is a low-cost nitrogen fertilizer form that provides plants with nitrogen to promote green leafy growth and make the plants look lush, according to Science Direct.
DA-6 Rice Program Report Officer Reynol Dequino said that the agency targets to achieve 4.22 metric tons per hectare average yield of palay this year through the help of the FDV program, as Western Visayas only had 3.41 metric tons per hectare average yield last year.
“Despite being the third highest palay-producing region across the country, Western Visayas had only 3.41 metric tons per hectare average yield in the previous year, which is not even included in the top 10 nationwide,” Dequino stressed.
DA-6 noted that yield performance in the region mostly depends on the changes in the annual rainfall pattern, particularly during the dry cropping season, as more than half of the total rice areas in Western Visayas are rainfed.
Meanwhile, Leganes Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Council chairperson Elizabeth Sol thanked DA-6 for the assistance as the farmers are struggling not just with the unfavorable weather, but with the high price of fertilizers on the market.
“Sa mga inputs nga kinahanglan sa aton uma, ang presyo gid sang abono amo ang pinakamataas. Gapasalamat gid kami kay natalupangdan kami sang DA,” Sol said.
Western Visayas currently has the highest FDV allocation nationwide with P189.5 million from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and P635 million from unprogrammed regular funds, according to DA-6.