DA, NFA to start soil tests to raise corn output

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THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has tapped the National Food Authority (NFA) to implement the department’s mobile soil test clinics in major corn-producing provinces in the country.

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The joint project aims to increase corn output through sufficient and balanced fertilization based on results of the soil tests, DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Executive Director Dr. Silvino Tejada said during the signing of the memorandum of agreement.

“The availability of the technology transfer that the project will provide is intended to benefit the farmers’ cooperatives in major corn-producing provinces such as Pangasinan, Isabela, Cagayan, Bukidnon and South Cotabato,” Tejada said.

The DA-BSWM will train the technicians, monitor the 10 off-road motorcycle carrier fitted with rack and luggage containing the soil test kits (STKs) throughout the two-year project implementation.

Tejada explained that the project is in line with the wider approach to increase production yields with the help of the STKs. The mobile clinics will allow farmers the access to implement a sufficient and balanced fertilization.

The NFA represented by the Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina will provide the funds needed and cover the equipment for the project as well as screen the beneficiaries and verify the information from the association to provide necessary financial assistance under the project.

The government is allotting more than P3.5 million in grants to 10 qualified corn farmer cooperatives and associations. The money will be used to cover the kits and refills, training, monitoring and implementation and as contingency fund.

The DA-BSWM has partnered with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and various farmers’ groups in an effort to combat soil degradation from climate change and wrong agricultural practices.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said they are now conducting soil mapping activities nationwide with to improve sustainable agriculture production.

Alcala said healthy soils are the foundation for food, fuel, fiber and medicine, but often go unnoticed by farmers. Healthy soils are essential to our ecosystems, playing a key role in the carbon cycle, storing and filtering water, and improving resilience to floods and droughts.

About 11.2 million hectares of degraded lands in the country will be prioritized for the soil-mapping scheme.

Inanglupa President Dr. William Dar earlier said that it would take as much as P500 million to conduct a one-time soil mapping scheme nationwide.

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