The Department of Agriculture (DA) is unveiling a national fertilizer program in a roll-over system, among other initiatives, to make Filipino farmers competitive as being pushed for by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol made the disclosure in an interview on the sidelines of his meeting with farmer leaders at the National Food Authority (NFA) regional staff house in Cabanatuan City.

“We have to make them (farmers) competitive kaya nga may commitment ang Pangulong Duterte at inutusan niya ako na gumawa ng paraan upang maumpisahan ‘yung (thus, there is a commitment of President Duterte and he ordered me to make way to start) the national fertilizer support program,” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief added that government estimates the fund requirement for the fertilizer procurement at P30 billion.

Under the program, government shall provide farmers with fertilizers which they will pay later.

“This is a continuing program,” the agriculture head noted. “It will be a continuing program and we hope that the farmers will respond. Sapagkat malaking bagay yung fertilization actually. Kasi tataas ng dalawa hanggang tatlong tonelada ang produksiyon ng mga magsasaka sa kada ektarya (Actually, fertilization is a big thing because the production of the farmers will increase two up to three metric tons per hectare).”

“It will be a continuing program and we hope that the farmers will respond.”

To support the project, government will provide farmers with a solar-powered irrigation system that can irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland, like the one being used in Israel, he said.

“The government will provide farmers with a solar-powered irrigation system.”

Government, Piñol added, is also extending a loan assistance to farmers’ organizations for the provision of grains drying facilities.

Meanwhile, the DA has removed the passbook being issued by the National Food Authority (NFA) as a requirement for farmers who want to sell palay to the agency, according to Piñol.

He stressed that NFA will continue to buy locally-produced palay and sell affordable rice.

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