By: Gail Momblan
ILOILO CITY – A total of 688 farmers in the province of Iloilo will produce “safe rice” at the end of the year through the organic rice program being implemented by the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO).
The organic rice program covers a total of 344 areas equally distributed to 42 towns and one component city of the province, Nancy Superal, provincial rice report officer said.
“Each municipality will have an eight-hectare area dedicated to growing organic rice. The Municipal Agriculture Offices are tasked to identify the land area and the farmers that will implement the program,” Superal said in an interview Tuesday.
Superal said PAO has already started its campaign on farmers to venture into organic farming last year.
Through the organic rice program, Iloilo will soon be able to have access to “safe rice”, she said.
“We can have a supply of safe rice. We eat rice three times a day and it contributes greatly to our health. We have a supply of organic vegetables and fruits, and eventually supply of safe rice,” she said.
Aside from this, the organic rice program can also reduce the cost of farmers as they can make their own inputs or buy organic fertilizer at a lower cost.
Superal clarified that farmers should not fear the organic way of farming.
“There is a misconception that when you go into organic farming, your production will be reduced but we have proven it otherwise,” she said.
She cited that a farmer in Igbaras town which first tried organic rice farming in January and harvested in May this year has produced 90 sacks of rice in one hectare.
“The average in Iloilo is 70 to 80 sacks per hectare,” she said.
According to Superal, the province has allotted PHP6 million fund to procure organic rice inputs and organic rice seeds which were already distributed to municipalities.
Organic rice inputs include microbial inoculants which will hasten the decomposition of rice straw and other organic matters in the soil; potassium humate which will help neutralize soil acidity and increase the effectivity of fertilizers; and organic liquid fertilizers.
“Our farmers were already oriented and trained on the organic way of growing rice,” she said.
Some of the farmers under the organic rice program have already planted last month. By this month, PAO anticipates that all farmers under the organic rice program are done with planting.
Superal said the farmers will continue to be monitored and will be assisted by PAO as they grow their rice plants. The harvest of organic rice in the province is expected in September or October this year, she said.
“We expect our farmers to get 80 to 100 sacks per hectare,” Superal said.
Farmers who are outside the organic rice program are also encouraged to organically grow their hybrid rice.
Superal said PAO has also trained local government units on how to use organic technology in hybrid rice production.
She said, however, that the undertaking needs “more motivation.” (PNA)