MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday highlighted how the use of biofertilizers may help rice production in the country become much more balanced, sustainable and cheaper.
During the Laging Handa public briefing, DA Undersecretary for Rice Industry Development Leocadio Sebastian explained the advantages of using local biofertilizers in improving production and yield.
"We are going into a more sustainable, eco-friendly, and climate-friendly rice production in the Philippines with that kind of technology," he said.
According to DA, biological fertilizers or biofertilizers are substances which contain living microorganisms that help increase the supply of nutrients to its host plant while improving the fertility or health of the soil.
Sebastian said that with the long-term use of synthetic fertilizer alone, the soil quality might deteriorate even more.
"Maraming mga nutrient na wala na sa ating lupa at kapag patuloy pa rin nating gamitin ang inorganic ay talagang hindi na rin aangat masyado ang ating production, ang ating ani (There are many nutrients that have been removed in our soil and if we continue to use inorganic, then our production and yield will not increase)," he said.
The undersecretary, however, clarified that the use of biofertilizers does not mean other types of fertilizers should already be abandoned.
"Iyong balanced fertilization mayroon kang organic na magpu-provide ng mga micronutrients, vitamins, mga iba-ibang nutrient (The balanced fertilization [refers to the use] of organic [fertilizer] which will provide micronutrients, vitamins, and other nutrients)," Sebastian said.
"Iyon namang biofertilizer, siya naman ay makakatulong na mag-improve sa pag-absorb ng halaman at saka pagkuha rin ng nitrogen sa atmosphere para balanced ang diet ng ating mga halaman (While the biofertilizer is the one helping to improve the absorption of plans and its collection of nitrogen in the atmosphere to provide a balanced diet for the crop)," he added.
For those wishing to use biofertilizers, the official said affordable and locally produced ones are available in the market.
Farmers have options ranging from PHP500 to PHP5,000 worth of biofertilizer, depending on its ingredients and technology used, which is already good for 1 hectare.
"Urea natin ngayon nagri-range siya sa 1,300 to 1,800 depende sa lugar mo iyong isang sako. So, kung dalawang sako iyon mahigit ng dalawang libo o tatlong libo iyong dalawang sako ng urea. Habang kapag gumamit ka ng biofertilizer pinakamahal na iyong magagamit mo ay 1,000 or 1,500 ang presyo bawat ektarya ang gamit (Our urea now ranges from PHP1,300 to PHP1,800 per sack depending on your area. So, if you use two sacks, it's more than PHP2,000 or PHP3,000. But if you use biofertilizer, the highest may be at PHP1,000 or PHP1,500 per hectare)," Sebastian said.
The DA, earlier, said that it will prioritize local producers of biofertilizers in the country, instead of imported ones.
"Hindi puwedeng imported na naman. Iyong teknolohiya naman ay galing sa abroad, dapat dito siya ginagawa para hindi tayo aasa na manggagaling pa sa abroad iyong produkto (It should not be imported again. Then if the technology is coming from abroad, it should be made here, so that we will not rely on other countries for the product)," he said.
To date, biofertilizers are being used in the USA, Europe, India, China and other neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Besides the requisition for local producers, bidders for the biofertilizer procurement must also be able to train or educate farmers for the technology.
Moreover, the biofertilizer itself must be registered and considered "cost-effective," meaning sold at an affordable price or may be at a higher price but resulting in a much higher yield.
As of now, the DA plans to launch the large-scale promotion of biofertilizers by October. (PNA)