The Department of Agriculture (DA) is providing a new credit facility scheme for irrigators associations (IAs) valued at P7.5 Billion (B), which aims to achieve greater productivity for the Philippine rice and corn sectors.
“Dubbed as Kaibigan at Kaagapay Adopt-A-Farm (KAKAF), the program will tap, as the Financial Group, private sectors and the Overseas Filipino Workers to allow rice farmers to have access to high-yielding rice seeds and sufficient fertilizer to improve their production,” Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.
The concept, presented by Piñol, during the joint planning workshop of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the country’s Irrigators Association, aims to improve rice productivity of the 500,000 hectare (ha) of irrigated farms all over the country during the dry planting season for 2017-2018.
Under the scheme, farmers who want to avail of financial assistance will have a free hand in choosing the kind of seeds and fertilizers to use.
“It will be the farmers who will specify what variety of rice seeds they prefer based on the adaptability to the conditions in their farms and the volume of fertiliser they need,” the Agri secretary said.
“We are not here to change your farming practices,” the Agri chief explained stressing that it will always be the farmers’ choice.
“I’d like to make a point that in agriculture, seeds are area specific. Therefore, procurement of seeds to be provided must be the farmers’ choice of seeds his/her farm need,” the Agri head added.
According to Piñol, DA will merely serve as a facilitator linking the Seeds Companies to the Finance Group and the Finance Group to the IAs. The Department will also conduct trainings for the farmers, provide them with equipment support and most of all, insure the farmers under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation so that when calamities strike, they will have the financial power to recover.
Piñol said he already had a series of meetings with private seed companies and some OFWs who have expressed willingness to be part of the project.
“I also told seed growers na huwag na nilang taasan ang kanilang mga presyo, kumbaga market price lang,” he said.
Piñol announced that the program shall initially be implemented in Guimaras and Antique.
The program targets to increase average production yield to 6 Metric tons (MT)/ha per harvest as compared this year production yield of 4.38 MT/ha/ harvest.
“This will also increase farmers’ average income per hectare by at least P36,000 per cropping or P72,000 every year,” he said.
For the smooth implementation of the program, IAs need to be accredited and issued ID cards under the Juan Magsasaka National Accreditation Program which contain information on their farm location and other details. Then they are required to consolidate seed and fertilizer requirements of members and coordinate with the DA-Regional Field Offices.