GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is set to launch a seed subsidy scheme for palay farmers who would be affected by the upcoming closure of two major irrigation facilities in the province.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said they will distribute subsidized hybrid corn seeds to allow palay farmers in the province’s upper valley area to plant corn as an alternative crop during the three-month closure of the Allah River Irrigation System starting on May 1 to facilitate its long overdue repair and rehabilitation.
“We allocated an initial P750,000 for the purchase of hybrid corn seeds that would be offered at subsidized prices to the affected farmers,” he said.
Legaste said the provincial government will deduct P1,000 from the price of the 50-kilogram hybrid corn seed as subsidy while the farmer-beneficiary will shoulder the remaining cost.
He said the subsidy scheme, which will be funded and implemented under the provincial government’s calamity preparedness program, will be offered to members of irrigators’ associations in areas that will be affected by the irrigation facility’s closure.
Based on their assessment, the official said around 9,000 hectares of palay farmlands in South Cotabato and 2,000 in Sultan Kudarat will be affected by the scheduled repairs set by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for dams 1 and 2 of the Allah River Irrigation System.
The repair works will include the linings and distribution canals in the upper valley area towns of Surallah, Sto. Niño, Banga and Norala in South Cotabato as well as Bagumbayan and Isulan in Sultan Kudarat.
NIA originally scheduled the repairs for four months but it later decided to complete them in three months as requested by local government officials and farmers in the affected areas.
The funding for the repair and rehabilitation of the irrigation facility, which was the first since it was opened in 1972, was part of the P427.3 million allocated by NIA for the area based on its 2012 annual investment plan.
Aside from the seed subsidy scheme, Legaste said they have coordinated with various seed companies for possible linkages with the irrigators’ associations within the affected areas.
He said that aside from corn, the local government is also promoting the planting of high-value vegetables in areas that were found suitable for them.
Legaste said some 5,000 hectares were found suitable for corn production while 2,000 hectares appeared viable for the planting of high-value vegetables.
“We’ve gathered several corn seed companies for the targeting and identification of areas where they can come in,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)