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Business

DA to launch Masagana programs in October

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Despite some opposition, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing to launch the Masagana 150 and 200 in October in a bid to raise the country’s rice production.

“By October, we will be launching Masagana 150 and 200. We are aiming to increase production for inbred rice to 7.5 metric tons (MT) per hectare and hybrid rice to 10 MT per hectare,” DA assistant secretary Arnel De Mesa said during the post SONA briefing yesterday.

An iteration of the Masagana 99 of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. from 1973 to 1984, Masagana 150 and 200 were proposed by agriculture secretary William Dar.

Masagana 150 seeks to achieve the 7.5 tons of inbred rice per hectare yield equivalent to 150 cavans at P8.38 production cost per kilogram, while Masagana 200 aims for a yield of 10 tons of hybrid rice per hectare, or 200 cavans, at a production cost of P7.82 per kilogram.

Both programs set the market price at P27.50 per kilogram.

While some have called the said programs a failure waiting to happen, President Marcos Jr. called Masagana 150 and 200 “good plans” that have to be operationalized.

De Mesa said the DA is targeting three million hectares for the overall life of Masagana 150 and 200.

He said the target yields are “doable” since some farmers are already able to achieve those yields.

In rolling out the Masagana programs in October, the DA will be phasing its implementation by targeting farmers with yields of over five MT to easier attain the 7.5 MT per hectare target under Masagana 150.

“We’ll start it by phase, so we’ll start with areas that have a good yield, access to irrigation. As we progress, we will deal with the needs of other rice areas,” De Mesa said.

With the high fertilizer cost and need for additional input for seeds, the DA requested for an additional budget of P4 billion.

The country is heavily dependent on imported fertilizers and its raw materials, which make it vulnerable to the rising fertilizer prices.

Sought for comment, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) president Rosendo So said the current average yield per hectare is 4.2 MT or 84 cavans.

He said the DA should discuss with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) how much input would be needed to meet the target yields under the Masagana programs.

“If we have only 1.5 million irrigated area, how can you plant three million hectares in October? Palay need good seeds , good water supply and right amount of nutrients. To determine amount of nutrients needed you have to test soil, what amount of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) needed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson emeritus and former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano said farmers do not want a repeat of the failed Masagana 99, but the President is touting the new iteration of the program “as among his flagship programs as Agri Chief.”

The KMP earlier said the President and the DA should bare the concrete details of the planned Masagana 150 and Masagana 200 programs.

“If he really wants to attain the Masagana 150, he needs a strong government intervention. He should approve the P15,000 support subsidy to all farmers, ensure irrigation, free postharvest facilities and price support the purchase of rice must be at least P20 per kilo,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said in a text message.

For the President’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan said the President bared a “clear vision to increase and support local production.”

“We view the programs he mentioned as doable and timely especially the need to increase production of livestock, poultry and fish,” Tugon Kabuhayan convenor Asis Perez said in a statement.

“A more pro-local producer policy would greatly help our goal of making fish cheaper and more accessible for everyone,” said the former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) executive director.

President Marcos said the government would provide more loans and cheaper farm inputs by having government buy fertilizer, pesticide, seedlings, and feeds in bulk.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

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