TARGET HARVEST. The Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) is optimistic of achieving its target of 250,000 metric tons of palay harvest this year despite Covid-19. OPA chief Nicolasito Calawag said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has increased its assistance to farmers who were able to plant for the first cropping. (PNA photo by Annabel Consuelo J. Petinglay)


SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) is optimistic that palay harvest in the province could reach the target of 250,000 metric tons (MT) this year.
OPA chief Nicolasito Calawag said farmers in Antique received various assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) that enabled them to plant early during this time of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). 
“Before the planting season for the first cropping, there had already been planting materials that had been pre-positioned by the DA for distribution to farmers,” he said in an interview Monday. 
The first cropping in Antique, which covers 43,000 hectares of rice land including the 20,000 hectares irrigated rice area, starts from May to August.
He said the DA regional office in Western Visayas has allocated and delivered for farmers in Antique under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) inbred seed component of 36,425 bags and 17,582 bags of fertilizer components.
“Of the total 36,425 bags of seeds, we are only able to distribute as of today 32,332 bags of seeds to farmers,” he added.
Calawag said they still have 4,093 bags for distribution to farmers until the end of August.
They were also able to distribute 11,043 bags of fertilizers.
Under the Rice Resiliency Project for expanded hybrids, the province of Antique was allocated with 9,675 bags, of which 7,331 bags were actually delivered to the province.
“OPA had distributed 1,475 bags of seeds,” he said.
Calawag said there was other rice support given by the DA that allowed farmers to plant for the first cropping, which are now mostly on the vegetative stage, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The DA support to farmers has really been increased as compared with those given in the previous years when the province only received a few bags of seeds and fertilizers which could be enough for about 4,000 hectares of irrigated lands,” he said.
For first cropping this year, Calawag said 80 to 90 percent of the 20,000 hectares irrigated rice lands had been subsidized or received seeds and fertilizer assistance from the DA. (PNA)