FARM MECHANIZATION HELPS SUSTAIN RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY
Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala loaded the high production of palay in Western Visayas as it remains to be the third rice producing region with 2,056,824 metric tons next to Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley “ Of the P1.5 billion budget for Region 6 this year, 20 percent is for farm mechanization. Thus, the program will help sustain the 119 percent rice self-sufficiency of Western Visayas,” Alcala said.
According to Alcala, full farm mechanization will support the Philippines as it competes in the global market in terms of volume and production cost of palay.
“I don’t see any reason why we should leave the program on farm mechanization. Now that there is the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration, paggalingan na po ng sistema at teknolohiya to lower the production cost,” Alcala told the local media during the press con held at the DA- Research Outreach Station in Sta. Barbara.
DA’s Farm Mechanization program was up to 30 percent equity for the farmers groups during the previous years administration, but was reduced to 15 percent upon the assumption of Alcala as Department Secretary.
“This year, 10 percent na lang po ang equity ng mga asosasyon nais mag-avail ng farm machinery from DA.” Alcala explained that 10 percent equity will ensure the association’s capability of managing the farm equipment and postharvest facilities.
DA’s Farm Mechanization Program seeks to lower the average production cost of palay from P11.00 per kilo to P9.00 per kilo. According to a study of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, farmers could save up to P1.60/kilo with the use of rice combine harvester. The said equipment can harvest 3-5 hectare per day.
Alcala mentioned that the national government’s budget for DA from 2011 to 2015 is P100 billion higher compared to the combined allocated budgets for agriculture by the previous three administrations.
“In 2010, ang edad ng ordinary farmer is 57 years old, two years ago a survey was made before the start of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the average age of Filipino farmers is 54 years old na lang. Ibig sabihin bumabata at ito po ay resulta ng farm mechanization at mga programa na nilalatag ng ating pamahalaan,” Alcala shared during the Farmers, Fisherfolk and Agriculture Extension Workers’ (AEWs) Forum held at Central Philippine University. Alcala turned over a total of P35,285,000 worth of farm equipment such as floating tillers, hand tractor with implements, pump and engines, 4-wheel drive tractors, hammer mills, mini 4-wheel drive tractors and rice combine harvesters to farmer associations in Region 6. Meanwhile, DA Region 6 raffled additional equipment worth P2,870,000.00. /MP