THE Department of Agriculture in Negros Island Region (DA-NIR) is distributing 500 bags of certified rice seeds worth almost P700,000 to farmers in Negros Occidental as measure to improve rice productivity.

DA Regional Director Joyce Wendam, who will lead the distribution at Bacolod Pavillon Hotel on July 10, said the agency has already identified recipient-farmers from various municipalities and cities in Negros Occidental.

Wendam said with the ratio of one bag per hectare, the total certified seeds for distribution will cover 500 hectares of rice farms.

“The seed distribution is timely since rainy season has already started and many farmers in the province are now ready to plant,” the DA official said, adding that the allocation is under the agency’s organic agriculture program.

Aside from assisting farmers in their farm input requirements, the DA-NIR is also utilizing rice seed distribution as strategy to encourage them to engage in organic agriculture.

Wendam said farmer-recipients of certified rice seeds are urged to use organic practices and system of farming.

Local farmers should realize that in organic farming production cost is lower, she added.

“We continue to work on increasing organic farm areas in the region,” Wendam said, stressing that this system of farming also promotes environmental protection.

For Negros Occidental alone, records of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) showed there are currently at least 15,000 hectares of agricultural area devoted to organic with almost 11,400 farmer-practitioners.

OPA earlier said the province has yet to set its target expansion for this year after the ongoing validation.

In terms of improving rice productivity, Wendam pointed out that certified seeds are also high-yielding like hybrid seeds.

“Through certified seed distribution along with other support services to the farmers, the DA-NIR is optimistic to achieve the region’s rice productivity target including 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2019,” she said. (PNA)