LIGAO CITY, March 24 (PNA) -– Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piňol turned over PHp20 million worth of agricultural production inputs and facilities to Bicol on Friday during a dialogue attended by 600 farmers-leaders and local officials in this city wherein he stressed how giving attention to “technology, financing and marketing” could adequately help the country’s farmers and fishermen.
During the dialogue called “TAPATAN: Gobyerno at mamamayan (face-off: govt and citizens)" he said it is important to help the farmers and fishermen because both the agriculture and fisheries sectors are “the hope of this country, nothing else.”
“Let's go back to the countryside because the countryside is the life of our country," Piňol said.
Emily Bordado, Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bicol information officer, said DA distributed during the event 100 bags of hybrid seeds, 200 bags of urea fertilizers, and 300 bags of open pollinated white corn seeds — all worth PHp420,000.
She said a unit of rice processing center or RPC 1 worth PHp6 million will be handed to the Monoporong Farmers Association Inc. of Oas, Albay while a cacao processing equipment worth PHp350,000 that include a roaster, grinder and cracker with cleaner and power sprayer will be given to the Kawa-Kawa Organic Planters Processors Association of Ligao City.
Bordado said 100 sets of garden tools and 100 packs of assorted vegetable seeds worth PHp170,000 will also be given to women's groups from towns in the third district of Albay while 100 heads of ducks and 10 heads of sheep worth PHp135,000 will be given to Nabonton 4-H Club of Ligao City.
The third district towns in Albay include Guinobatan, Ligao City, Oas, Polangui and Libon.
Bordado added a warehouse and combined harvester worth PHp5.6 million will be turned over to PhilRice or Philippine Rice Research Institute, a government corporate entity attached to DA that is tasked to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce sufficient rice for all Filipinos.
Piñol said to achieve the goals in the agriculture sector of the country, the government should enhance technology in the farms, financing schemes for farmers and the marketing of their produce.
He said in terms of technology, DA has introduced the solar-powered irrigation system that will do away with the building of a dam. In this regard, he added the department is set to distribute 10 solar powered irrigation systems in selected pilot areas.
DA has also launched the website "farmersguidemap.gov.ph" which will specify the appropriate agricultural products to be planted in specific areas.
"We made this guide map because for so long farmers just guess what to plant in their farmlands without really knowing what kind of land they have and what fertilizers they really need,” Piňol said.
He added that the system seeks to do away with the “guessing game in farming” which Filipinos of all ages have been doing for a long time now.
Piñol said that with the intervention and help of the government, farmers can now plant based on soil suitability and climate condition.
He said that “another page is expected to be launched soon” when DA can show farmers how water source can be detected in different barangays.
The DA chief said in terms of “financing”, the total loan package that farmers could avail of amounts to PHP3 billion with nine loan programs that can cater to both farmers and fishermen.
He said he has submitted to Congress a draft bill that will change the requirements before a loan could be obtained.
Piñol added “the requisites do not include asking for more collaterals” from farmers and fishermen.
The farmers, however, must be registered with the national registry of farmers and fishermen so they could avail of the “farmers-fishermen quick credit facility.”
Piñol said the farmers can avail of up to Php50,000 (PHp 25,000 for agricultural products and PHp 25,000 credit line) that can be released “within a period of three days.”
He said there will be another modification in terms of mode of payment of loans such that maturity of the loan will be determined by the kind of agricultural seeds being planted compared to the current practice of making the farmers pay for their loans the following year.
The DA head added the department will support the farmers, “who will be the ones who will engage in marketing their own products,” through cooperatives to be organized by DA.
He said the cooperatives will be given tractors, planters, harvesters, dryers and a rice processing facility so that by harvest time the farmers can bring their products to the market already.
Piñol stressed the produce of the farmers will become useless if the farmers are not helped in bringing them to the marketplace.
From Ligao City, Piňol is expected to proceed to Casiguran, Sorsogon where he will be joined by Senator Francis Escudero for the turnover of boats and fishing paraphernalia to identified fisherfolk. (PNA)