Fertilizer subsidy program gets P4.1 billion additional funding
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has infused an additional P4.1 billion into the government’s fertilizer subsidy program to help alleviate the burden on local rice farmers of the rising cost of the farm input.
In a memorandum order dated Oct. 17, the DA said the money would enable rice farmers to meet the recommended urea fertilizer usage and, in turn, increase rice production in the country.
“This fund shall be used by beneficiaries as a discount on the retail price of urea fertilizers,” the memorandum read.
Urea is the most common fertilizer used by local farmers. As of Sept. 30, urea was selling at P2,523.08 per 50-kilogram bag, surging by 64.7 percent from P1,531.78 a year ago, according to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.
The DA earlier earmarked P5.85 billion for the implementation of the fertilizer discount voucher project under the National Rice Program (NRP), covering almost 3 million hectares of land nationwide.
The fund, which is from the DA’s 2022 budget, covers the subsidy program for the 2022 wet season, or from June to August, as well as the 2002-2023 dry planting season from December to March next year.
The additional P4.1 billion approved by the DA will be for the 2022-2023 dry season and came from the unprogrammed funds directly released by the Department of Budget and Management to the DA’s Regional Field Offices through the special allotment release order (Saro) dated Sept. 2.
“With the goal of cushioning the potential impacts of underapplication of urea fertilizer to palay production and ultimately food security, the DA shall provide fertilizer vouchers to eligible beneficiaries which will be used in acquiring urea fertilizers,” the DA said.
“This activity aims to ensure the timely availability of the needed fertilizer for rice production in the targeted areas through the distribution of fertilizer discount vouchers,” it said.
Specifically for the 2022-2023 dry season, the goal is to enable farmers to increase urea fertilizer usage to raise rice output and stabilize local supply and prices.
The Philippines is aiming for a rice production of 20.25 million metric tons this year, slightly higher than last year’s record high of 19.96 million MT.
However, the US Department of Agriculture has lowered its Philippine rice production estimate for 2022-2023, which began in July, to 11.98 million MT from 12.41 million MT due to steep fertilizer prices, which resulted in significantly reduced usage, and the impact of Typhoon Karding (international name: Noru) on the rice sector.
The fertilizer subsidy program covers regions that have been planted with inbred and hybrid rice seeds, except the National Capital Region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
To avail themselves of fertilizer discount vouchers, farmer beneficiaries must be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture, and will be planting during the 2022-2023 dry cropping season. The DA will prioritize farmers tilling 2 ha or smaller.
The one-time voucher, which has a value of P1,131 per ha for inbred, and P2,262 for hybrid, may be obtained from accredited fertilizer merchants in their areas.
In the 2022-2023 dry cropping season, farmers tilling 0.5 ha and below are entitled to a fertilizer voucher worth P3,300, and for those tilling 0.51 ha to 2 ha, the voucher value will be computed by multiplying the farm area by P6,600.
For the 2022 wet season, beneficiaries have until Dec. 11 this year to get the fertilizer using the voucher and the deadline for payment to merchants is on April 28, 2023.
In the case of the 2022-2023 dry season using the 2022 budget of the DA, all vouchers must be generated by Feb. 17, 2023, and farmers may get their fertilizers using vouchers no later than March 17, 2023. Payment to merchants shall be made on or before April 28, 2023.
For the 2022-2023 dry season that will use the unprogrammed appropriations, the deadline for producing vouchers is on Nov. 28, 2022.
READ: Farmers seek fertilizer subsidy due to low prices of palay
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