A total of P1.52 billion (B) in farm machineries and project grants were awarded to farmers/fishers-beneficiaries from the rural communities of the SOCCSKSARGEN Region, during a Mass Distribution of farm equipment and various agricultural assistance on July 30, 2015 at the regional center in Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City.
“Farm  mechanization  is  one  of the best way to  lower agricultural  production cost  and improve the competitiveness of  our  farmers. It remains a priority of the government,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said.
Alcala added that with less than one year to go, the current administration is more aggressive in delivering services and assistance to assure that the farming and fishing sectors remain sustainable and competitive.
The farm machineries distributed, close to 370 units in all, consists of high-powered four-wheel drive tractors (with and without backhoe) for both rice and corn, hand tractor with implements, combine harvester, and multi-commodity solar dryer, among others.
The agri chief urged the beneficiaries to maximize the use of their newly-acquired equipment. He also appealed to them “to take care of the machines.”
Selected farmer groups have been trained on how to properly use the facilities.
“I’m happy to announce that the entire region achieved 128% self-sufficieny in rice last year alone as most farmers here have experienced much improved production with the help of our pre- and post-harvest facilities and other interventions,” he said.
In 2014, SOCCSKSARGEN recorded 1.364    million metric tons (MMT) of palay equivalent to 31.68 percent of rice production in Mindanao and 7.1 percent share to the total national production.
Alcala and Department of Agriculture Region XII Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan also distributed other farm inputs and livestock animals to farmers’/irrigators’ associations and local government units in South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan  Kudarat  and  Sarangani.
The agri chief also also awarded a total of Php152 million -worth of machines and  implements including  fishing boats, motors and other equipment  and facilities to identified fisherfolk organizations from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), , together with BFAR 12 Regional Director Sammy Malvas.
During the event, a total of 19 farm-to-market road networks, amounting to almost P460 million, under the Philippine Rural Development Project were awarded to local chief executives.
“Aside from assisting you [the farmers and fishers] in the production, the government wants to make sure that you are able to deliver your produce to trading areas in the best possible way,” Alcala said.
“This part of the holistic strategy of the Aquino government,” he added.
“President  Noynoy himself said  that  the national government will sustain the  reforms that  we have  started in the agricultural  sector and so we will continue to serve  you until we  attain a better  life for every Filipino family,”  Alcala  said.
While in Koronadal, the agri chief led the inauguration of the Agri-Pinoy Center, which serves as the new home of the regional DA. The building, which stands on a land owned by the city government, will serve as a venue in empowering the farming and fishing communities and the private sector so they may be able to produce enough, accessible and affordable food for every Filipino and adequate income for all, while attaining a Food Staple Sufficient Philippines.
The event was attended by over 4,000   farmers, fisherfolk, local government officials, and other agriculture industry stakeholders. (DA-RAFIS/Adora Rodriguez, AFID)

Posted by: Lynne Pingoy


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