DA to give free seeds to farmers

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
DA to give free seeds to farmers

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) will provide free seeds to farmers who will sell their produce to the government as part of efforts to beef up the national inventory and ensure better utilization of high-yielding rice varieties.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the DA is now formulating the policies and guidelines for the Free Seeds Incentives Program for farmers who will deliver their palay to the National Food Authority.

“I suggested that for every four metric tons delivered to the NFA by individual farmers or farmer associations and cooperatives, they will be given one bag of PhilRice developed inbred rice seeds,” Piñol said.

“For every eight metric tons of palay delivered, the farmers or their cooperatives and associations will be given a bag of commercial hybrid seeds,” he added.

The program will be implemented in the next harvest season or the first quarter of 2019.

The seeds that will be made available to farmers will be based on the field trials conducted in specific areas which showed the adaptability of the  rice variety to the soil and weather conditions in a locality.

Piñol attributed  the low and slow adoption of good quality inbred and hybrid rice seeds to the high cost of the seeds which are now priced at P5,000 per bag for one hectare.

“PhilRice recommended inbred varieties could yield as much as eight to 10 MT per hectare and are priced lower at P1,560 per bag good for one hectare. Commercial hybrid seeds, on the other hand, have yielded as much as 10 to 14 MT per hectare in areas where the growing conditions are ideal,” he said.

Currently, the national average yield of farmers who use traditional rice seed varieties is only 4.1 MT per hectare.

The DA is targeting a national average of six MT per hectare per harvest by introducing good quality seeds, solar powered irrigation systems, easy access financing and mechanization.

Furthermore, the Free Seeds Incentives Program will be on top of the other initiatives offered by DA to farmer cooperatives and associations who will sell their produce to NFA.

Apart from buying palay produce at P20.70 per kilogram, the DA has committed to reward farmer associations and cooperatives with farm machinery and equipment based on the volume of rice they sell to the state-run grains agency.

Piñol said the DA is also considering the establishment of grain silos in the country.

“The President wants physical inventory. We want it in at least four areas, in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Iloilo for Visayas and another one in Mindanao,” he said.

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