Negros Occidental Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino speaks at the Commodity Investment Forum held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City on Thursday (March 7, 2019), with (seated from left) Provincial Consultant, Rafael Coscolluela, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., and Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson. (Photo courtesy of Negros Occidental Capitol PIO)
BACOLOD CITY -- The provincial government of Negros Occidental will spend an additional PHP40 million to boost its farm mechanization program, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino announced.
Masculino, in his talk during the Commodity Investment Forum held at the Capitol Social Hall here Thursday, said using the added fund, they will tap the Department of Agriculture (DA) for a possible engagement in a counterpart scheme.
He said the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) will present the plan to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who is expected to arrive in Sagay City with President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday for the distribution of land titles to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).
“Under the proposed scheme, the province will have a counterpart of 20 percent. If we have PHP40 million, the remaining 80 percent or PHP160 million will come from the DA’s Rice Enhancement Program (RCEF),” the OPA chief said.
Under Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., the provincial government has been pushing for farm mechanization, mainly to help farmers improve productivity and profitability by reducing production costs, and has recently considered it as one of the measures to allay the possible adverse effects of the Rice Tariffication Law to Negrense farmers.
Last year, the province allocated PHP25 million for the purchase of farm equipment, but these can cover only “minimal” rice production areas.
Masculino said the target is to fully mechanize the entire rice production areas of the province in three years.
He added that once the proposal is approved, the PHP200 million counterpart fund of the province and the DA can purchase at least 30 sets of machines, including tractors, harvesters and transplanters.
The province could tap 30 service providers that can cover a total of about 12,000 hectares, or 400 hectares for each service provider.
“With these additional machines, we can already fully mechanize the entire Bago River Irrigation System area,” Masculino said.
The forum on Thursday, attended by about 130 farmers and other grains industry stakeholders, was organized by the OPA, Provincial Veterinary Office, and Provincial Economic Development and Incentive, among other departments.
It sought to provide Negrense farmers a chance to diversify crops with the assistance of the province, local government units, and credit agencies. (PNA)