Beyond Buzzwords: Transforming Philippine Agriculture!

DA promotes cheaper bio-fertilizer to help farmers save on cost, attain optimum crop yield

Author: DA Communications Group | 7 June 2022

With the increasing prices of chemical fertilizers, further worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is massively promoting the use of “Bio N,” a microbial-based fertilizer.

“Given the exigencies of the times, we have to massively promote the use Filipino-developed technologies to enhance crop productivity and incomes of our farmers and fishers,” said Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar.

“One of these is Bio N, that was developed 40 years ago by Dr. Mercedes Umali-Garcia of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Biotech), at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB),” the DA chief said.

Available in 200-gram sachets, Bio N contains organisms capable of converting nitrogen from the air into ammonium nitrogen in the soil. It enhances shoot growth and root development and can replace 30 to 50 percent (%) of total chemical nitrogen requirement of crops, according to UPLB-Biotech.

Five to six sachets of Bio N can replace two 50-kg bags of urea per hectare (ha) planted to rice. Urea currently retails from as low as P2,500/bag to as high as P3,147, depending on the brand and country of origin or an average price of P2,823.50/bag. The total fertilizer cost would mean P11,294 at the average of four bags/hectare. With Bio N, priced at P100 per sachet, rice farmers could save P10,694 per hectare for utilizing five to six sachets.

UPLB studies show that Bio N could increase crop yields by 11%. Aside from rice, it can be used for corn and vegetables, too.

Crop seeds are mixed or “inoculated” with Bio N powder before sowing or planting. Seedlings can also be dipped in Bio N water solution.

““Bio N forms part of our balanced fertilization strategy (BFS), as we implement ‘Plant Plant Plant Program Part 2,’ which was approved by President Duterte. BFS entails the intensified promotion of bio-fertilizers and bio-stimulants among our farmers nationwide,” Secretary Dar said.

Last March 22, 2022, the DA forged a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UPLB-Biotech to expand the research and development, capacity building, and upscaling of Bio N and other bio fertilizers, stimulants and technologies.

Even before the MOU, the DA under its national corn program has funded the establishment of 17 Bio N mixing plants across the country.

In addition, the DA Region 3 field office signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with UPLB-Biotech on May 23, 2022, for the latter to supply 10,000 packs of Bio N for distribution to Central Luzon farmers.

Further, the DA through the National Food Authority (NFA) is establishing 20 Bio N mixing facilities under the agency’s Corn Development Program (CornDev).

For their part, UPLB-Biotech officials, along with National Scientist, former UP President and founding Biotech Director Dr. Emil Q. Javier, met on May 10, 2022 with DA officials — led by Undersecretary Leocadio S. Sebastian and DA-PhilRice Director John de Leon — and members of the private sector to discuss strategies to scale up the production and distribution of Bio N and other bio fertilizers and stimulants to farmers nationwide.

On May 20, Secretary Dar led the distribution of 1,000 packs of Bio N to farmers’ cooperatives and associations during the opening of the new R&D facility at the DA-RFO 2 Cagayan Valley Research Center, in Ilagan City, Isabela.

He also visited the DA Isabela soils laboratory that produces Bio N for distribution to farmers. ### (Dale Russeth Gabanes, DA-StratComms)

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