DA to digitalize farm input procurement

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will start digitalizing the distribution and procurement of farm inputs to farmers beneficiaries.

The department said it will start the measure this coming dry season planting as a way to reduce the delays in distribution of seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs.

“The procurement and distribution of seeds and fertilizers used to take 90 days to complete but with the digitalization of the system, clustered farmers would now enjoy nearly real-time payouts through this cashless transaction,” said DA.

According to the DA, the digital system will be introduced to its 15 regional field offices (RFOs) wherein merchants can sell their goods to a certain municipality identified by the department.

The seller includes 15 biofertilizer companies and 15 seed companies where farmers can purchase through the intervention monitoring cards (IMC).

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“The IMC (held by farmers) functions just like an ATM or e-wallet, where money can be issued for every transaction,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Rice Industry Development Leocadio Sebastian.

Clustered farmers will choose their own fertilizers and seeds in bulk from merchants selling seeds and biofertilizer, organic or chemical fertilizers, and microbial inoculants for the soil, the DA said.

“This then becomes a seamless transaction between clustered farmers and the merchants,” it added.

Merchants can go to the Development Bank of the Philippines and its accredited financial technology partner, Universal Storefront Services Corp., for the payment from clusters involved in the transaction.

Sebastian also said in order to avail the farm input assistance from the DA, vouchers will be issued to clustered farmers, which they can use anytime to purchase inputs of their choice.

“This drastically departs from previous practice where farmers just had to accept whatever the DA RFOs supply them, which some of them do not find useful for their farms,” said Sebastian.

He added that this system will be inclusive as the bulk system of procurement and distribution will now include micro, small and medium enterprises producers, and distributors of seeds and farm inputs as compared to the previous system that included only big suppliers and producers.

Sebastian also noted that previous fertilizer scams will be avoided through the system by ensuring that farmers will receive the best quality of goods and at the best price.

“Since the voucher system is digitalized (aside from being direct to farmers), traceability of transactions is easier, thus making the system more transparent,” he said.