DEPT OF AGRICULTURE SEEKS P12 B FOR RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM


MANILA, JUNE 28
, 2010 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The Department of Agriculture (DA) Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program is seeking a P12 billion plus budget for its rice self-sufficiency program, according to GMA rice program director Dr. Frisco Malabanan.

In a press briefing, Malabanan said that the DA is still maintaining its goal to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

The country’s rice self-sufficiency is just around 85 percent.

However, Malabanan said, the government must support the DA-GMA rice program.

The P12 billion funding that the DA-GMA rice program is seeking, Malabanan said, would be used for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation and post-harvest facilities.

Apart from assistance on fertilizers, seeds and irrigation, Malabanan also stressed the critical need to provide financing and loans to farmers.

One form of financing, Malabanan said, is continued subsidy for seeds.

Although during the time of former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap there had been talk of doing away with the seed subsidy, Malabanan expressed the need to maintain such subsidy especially for the more productive hybrid seeds which have already been proven to increase rice output.

Malabanan cited a Pulse Asia survey which showed that irrigation and seeds have the highest impact on production.

He also noted that other South East Asian countries continue to provide subsidy to their farmers, “so why should we stop helping our own farmers?”

The DA, he said, is also focusing on organic fertilizer, acknowledging that the cost of inorganic fertilizer is still high.

Farmers, Malabanan said, can use animal manure and plant waste. Malabanan further explained that while there are communal irrigation facilities, “we need more small water impounding projects and shallow tube wells.”

The DA official pointed out that in China there are a lot of water impounding projects with trees planted around the pools – improving the water table. Such practise, Malabanan said, “is what i’m trying to advocate in the Philippines.”

At the same time, Malabanan stressed, “we also need support from local governments extension workers whose functions have been devolved from the DA to the LGUs.

Unfortunately, Malabanan said, “many extension workers are not agriculturists,” requiring the DA to train them.

The DA, additionally, Malabanan said, is trying to educate more farmers on the benefit of using the more productive hybrid seeds.

The DA, he said, is conducting more cluster demonstrations on climate change ready seeds.

On post-harvest facilities, Malabanan admitted that solar drying is still the cheapest, but the DA still has to provide flatbed dryers and multipurpose pavement dryers.

Lastly, Malabanan also cited the need to modernize local rice mills as standard milling recovery is still at 65 percent.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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