FARM INPUT SUPPORT. A rice field in the municipality of Sibalom, considered the rice granary of Antique. Sonie Guanco of the Department of Agriculture 6 (Western Visayas) said on Friday (July 22, 2022) that 17,044 farmers in the province would be receiving fertilizer discount vouchers. (PNA photo by Annabel Consuelo J. Petinglay)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – About 17,044 rice farmers in Antique province are expected to benefit from the fertilizer discount vouchers (FDV) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as farm input support.

DA Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (APCO) officer in charge Sonie Guanco, in an interview on Friday, said the municipal agriculture officers (MAOs) have been instructed to validate the master list of the recipient- farmers.

“The FDV will be a big help for the farmers because they could already avail of the discount for their fertilizer input,” Guanco said.

Each farmer registered with the Registry System for the Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) will receive a voucher worth PHP6,200 per hectare of planted rice area for August and September, which is under the second cropping period, he added.

Sibalom MAO Albert Estoya, in a separate interview, said adequate fertilizer is very critical in their production since their municipality is considered to be the rice granary of the province with its total rice area covering 6,500 hectares.

“Farmers in our municipality really find great relief considering that they would need at least six to seven bags of fertilizers to be applied per hectare of land,” Estoya said, adding that farmers are now assured of having at least one-half of the farm input that they need as a bag of fertilizer costs PHP2,400.

Rhea Dacallo, a farmer and owner of the farm school Uswag Durog Rivergems Farm, Inc. in San Remigio, said they are glad that they would be provided with vouchers.

“The voucher could really help us save from buying fertilizer,” Dacallo said.

Antique Vice Governor Edgar Denosta, in an earlier interview, said he was hopeful that through the assistance to farmers by the administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the thrust to bring down the price of rice could be realized as part of food security.

“The high cost of fertilizers and pesticides is also the reason why farmers are not so aggressive and even become hopeless with farming that affects our food security,” Denosta said.

The distribution of fertilizer discount vouchers for rice farmers is under the National Rice Program. (PNA)