Press Release
May 18, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas said the country's over-reliance on imported rice can be immediately reduced in the short-term by providing fertilizers to Filipino farmers.

"We are importing 2 million metric tons of rice this year. If we provide our farmers with the right amount of fertilizer in irrigated lands, we can raise our present production by about 1.2 million MT a year," he said.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade said with the increased cost of fertilizer, which rose to P1,200 from just P600 last year, farmers have reduced their fertilizer usage to 3 bags per hectare or one-half the ideal amount of 6 bags.

"We have 1 million hectares of productive irrigated land. What the government can do is provide additional 3 bags of fertilizer per hectare worth around P5,000 to raise yield by 1.2 MT a hectare," he explained.

Roxas said that investing in fertilizers for farmers would yield more rice for the country and earnings for the farmers, thus cutting public expenditures on imported rice that benefit only the farmers of Thailand, Vietnam, and even the United States.

"Sa dagdag na isang tonelada na ani kada ektarya, ang dagdag na kita sa magsasaka ay nasa P24,000 kung ang isang kilo ng palay ay P20. Batay dito, makakayanan ng magsasaka na mabayaran ang utang na P5,000," he said.

"During the food summit last March, the President committed to P15 billion worth of agricultural credit to farmers. Even just P5 billion of this will cover the additional fertilizer needed by farmers to increase their rice yields," he said.

Roxas lamented that the fertilizer scam in 2004 tainted the government's assistance program for farmers. "This is an opportunity for the agriculture department to make amends to our farmers by ensuring that fertilizers go to the intended beneficiaries at the right cost and quality."

Aside from providing fertilizers, the Liberal Party President underscored the need to increase the number of hectares being irrigated and to protect the existing irrigated hectarage.

"We need to strictly enforce a nationwide ban on the conversion of irrigated agricultural lands for commercial or industrial purposes," he said, while stressing that the average yield of irrigated land is almost 2 MT per hectare more than the yield of rain-fed land.

"To increase the irrigated hectarage, I strongly recommend the development of small-water impounding systems, which would cost P30,000 per hectare. This is better than large-scale irrigation systems, which not only cost P100,000 per hectare but also tend to be harder to manage and maintain," he said.

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