Zamboanga del Norte– Project ConVERGE Zamboanga del Norte sought to increase more farmers to be reached by implementing a new scheme in its Integrated Rubber Enterprise. As the project focuses on a long-gestating crop, the implementing team decided to introduce the fertilization modality as another strategy to address beneficiary needs.

On its earlier years, the project was designed to focus only on rubber planting in new areas and re-planting in existing but unproductive areas. However, these planting modalities took much time to implement. Because of this, management deemed that another approach was needed in order for the project to serve a wide segment of its target beneficiaries, thus the use of the new scheme.

CARPO Alfonso Tan also said that the change has resulted in significant increase. “We now have more areas being covered and more beneficiaries served in a short span of time,” he added.

According to findings of the implementation, a large size of the existing rubber areas in the Resettlement Cluster have low yield due to inadequate or non-application of the required farm inputs, specially the fertilizers due to its high cost. A significant number of rubber farmers are still dependent on these standing rubber trees for their livelihood. The said status is additional reason to provide the fertilizers.

So far, the new planting scheme has covered 227 hectares and farmers until 2018. Meanwhile, rehabilitation through fertilization approach has benefitted 126 farmers covering a hectare each.

Increase in yield as a result of crop fertilization was immediately noticed as shown by the following table:

 

Yield Performance of standing rubber tree (under the new fertilization modality), in kilogram per hectare Difference
Without Fertilizer With Fertilizer
157.5 kg/ha/month (350 trees) 367.5 kg/ha/month (350 trees) +210 kg/ha/month

The resulting yield increase of 210 kilogram is translated into around Php 5,070 (at Php 27 per kilogram) as farmer-level additional income after the fertilizer application.

Tan added that while this approach may be considered short-term, the ARBO is also implementing the so-called cost-recovery scheme (CRS). This is a fertilization sustainability measure which will guide the farmer recipients to contribute a certain amount every month in order to find their fertilization expense in the next year.

“We also would like to ensure that there is continuity to the practice as it is integral to ensuring that their quality of produce is sustained,” Tan said.

By: Edgardo Hipega

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