DA distributes hybrid rice to South Cot farmers affected by El Nino

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 June) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has intensified the implementation of its hybrid rice seeds subsidy program in various parts of South Cotabato in time for the onset of the rainy season in the area.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said Tuesday the DA central office approved the allocation of some 15,000 bags of hybrid rice for the province to assist local palay farmers who were affected by the recent long dry spell or El Nino Phenomenon.

He said the distribution of the hybrid rice seeds is part of DA’s post-El Nino rehabilitation measures.

“The program intends to fast track the rehabilitation of farms that were affected by the drought and encourage our famers to resume planting,” Legaste told MindaNews.

Under the scheme, he said local farmers may avail of various hybrid rice varieties through the DA’s 50-50 scheme.

He said DA will subsidize half or 50 percent of the cost of each 50-kilogram bag of hybrid rice seeds while the beneficiaries will shoulder the remaining 50 percent.

At the current price of P1,200 per bag, Legaste said local farmers only need to raise P600 to avail of the subsidized hybrid rice seeds.

He said each farmer is allowed to avail of the subsidized seeds for a farm area of three to five hectares.

He said prospective beneficiaries may avail of the marked down rice seeds, which consist of at least 12 hybrid varieties that had been tested as suitable for the area, through their respective Municipal Agriculture Office or at the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.

“So far, we have around 800 farmers who signified to avail of the subsidized seeds and based on our estimates, these beneficiaries will need at least 10,000 bags of hybrid rice,” he said.

The agriculture official added they expect to complete the distribution of the allocated 15,000 bags for the province before the end of the month.

South Cotabato was among the areas in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao that were hit by the long dry spell, which ravaged more than 5,000 hectares of corn and palay farms for about three months.

But some of the area’s corn and palay farms were spared from total devastation due to the DA-funded cloud-seeding operations that ran for almost the entire month of April. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)