LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Agriculture in Bicol (DA-5) has distributed over PHP400 million worth of fertilizer subsidies to rice farmers in the six provinces of the Bicol region.

In an interview on Monday, Lovella Guarin, DA-5 spokesperson, said a total of PHP406.6 million fertilizer discount vouchers were given to 106,120 farmers during the wet season cropping (March 16-Sept. 15, 2022) and dry season cropping (Sept. 16-March 15, 2023).

"During the wet season cropping, a total of PHP105.3 million fertilizer discount vouchers were claimed by 55,573 farmers from Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes, while for dry season cropping a total of PHP301.3 million were claimed by 50,547 rice farmers from Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon," Guarin said.

She said the fertilizer vouchers shall be used by the farmer-beneficiaries to claim urea fertilizers at their preferred DA-accredited dealers, distributors, and outlets.

"Qualified beneficiaries are those rice farmers registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), seed beneficiaries distributed by DA and PhilRice, validated farmers who planted using their own or self-purchased seeds, and those farmers who signified their intention to plant for the covered cropping season," she said.

DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel Tornilla said the DA National Rice Program has increased the amount of fertilizer subsidy to rice farmers from PHP1,131 (for those using inbred seeds) and PHP2,262 (hybrid) to PHP6,600 per hectare.

"The increase in the fertilizer subsidy is DA’s immediate support to rice farmers amidst the hike in fertilizer prices due to larger demand from other countries as well as higher freight costs," he said in a statement.

Tornilla added that the voucher value for assistance was computed based on the actual area planted by the farmer and should not exceed the area registered in the RSBSA.

"To serve more farmers, an eligible farmer-beneficiary can receive a maximum voucher value of PHP13,200, equivalent to two hectares," he said. (PNA)