Farmers lobby for more support to regions with land available to expand rice planting

Farmers lobby for more support to regions with land available to expand rice planting

THE Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) said on Thursday that the Department of Agriculture needs to support farmers in regions with sufficient land to plant more rice.

PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto told reporters that more government support should be given to the Western and Eastern Visayas, Soccsksargen, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Following a meeting with Secretary Francisco T. Laurel, Jr., Mr. Fausto said the DA is currently studying alternative rice planting sites.

“On rice, (the Secretary of Agriculture) is trying to go not only to Central Luzon and the Cagayan Valley. He is looking at other planting areas,” he said.

The DA is projecting that production of palay, or unmilled rice, will hit 20 million metric tons this year.

PCAFI is also calling for the continuation of subsidies for hybrid seed varieties to increase yield per hectare for rice and corn.

“We support (the Secretary’s) plan to reorganize the DA to be more aggressive…in disbursement, they are a bit delayed in reaching the farmers,” Mr. Fausto added.

Additionally, PCAFI is also pushing for the DA to provide fertilizer subsidies.

Separately, Mr. Laurel said in a statement that there are opportunities to synchronize rice programs to improve grain production and reduce post-harvest losses.

“We just have to focus our efforts and synchronize with each other in implementing our rice programs with all agencies, local government units, and stakeholders,” he added.

He said that the DA is also set to launch a “massive modernization program” to increase the rate of rice recovery after milling from the previous rate of 62%, while reducing post-harvest waste. — Adrian H. Halili