THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is promoting microbial-based fertilizers following a tightening in the supply of inorganic fertilizers, which is raising prices.

“To mitigate the possible impact of the rising cost of fertilizer on farmers’ income, rice production, and food security, there is a need to mainstream and scale up the use of microbial-based fertilizers nationwide,” the DA said in an administrative order.

“The increasing cost of inorganic fertilizer limits the farmers to adopt the recommended (fertilizer dosage), directly affecting the crop yield of many farmers (and possibly reducing) total rice production,” it added.

The DA said organic fertilizer technology is available but needs a large volume of raw materials, a shortfall which is preventing them from being widely adopted.

“Microbial formulations have complementary and synergetic effects with inorganic fertilizers and have been increasingly used as bio-fertilizers. Using the recommended application rate, the microbial-based fertilizer contributes a minimum increment yield of 10%,” the DA said.

Microbial-based fertilizers are usually derived from a micro-organism and are believed to improve plant growth.

The National Integrated Rice Program (NIRP) will be tasked with helping farmers reduce their usage of inorganic fertilizers and adjust to microbial-based types.

The NIRP is expected to establish demonstration sites in every rice-producing province and partner with microbial-based fertilizer producers, farmers’ organizations, and the local government units, the DA said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson