DA awards P215.5-M agri projects to farmer groups, LGUs

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Aug. 3 (PIA) — To intensify the attainment of affordable and available food for every Filipino, the Department of Agriculture (DA) turned over P215.5 million worth of farm machines and other projects to farmer groups and local government units (LGUs) in SOCCSKSARGEN Region.

“This activity is part of our aim to fully mechanize Philippine Agriculture before the term of President Duterte ends,” said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol who led the ceremony on Monday.

With the secretary were Undersecretary for Special Concerns Atty. Ranibai Dilangalen and Usec. for Fisheries Eduardo Gongona.

Handing out farm machineries and equipment was carried out under DA’s Agricultural Mechanization Program aimed at increase productivity and lower post-harvest losses.

Machines given out consisted of rice combine harvesters, farm tractors, floating tillers, corn shellers, shallow tube wells, cassava chippers and many more.

As to the value, some P94 million of farm inputs were handed out under the rice program, P80 million in corn program, P11. Millio in high value crops, P9.2 in livestock a and P1.2-M under organic agriculture program.

DA, through the Philippine Rural Development Project, also handed over the first tranche worth P2.09-M to the recipients of the coffee enterprise subproject of South Cotabato.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation also awarded P215, 000 insurance claims to intended farmer-beneficiaries from Tantangan, South Cotabato.

At the turn over ceremony, Sec. Piñol announced thayt farmer associations can now avail of pre- and post-harvest facilities without raising funds for the equity.

“The order of the president is to give you these equipment fast and free,” the agri chief said.

Sec. Piñol pointed out that the only way for farmers to speedily make use of the farm machines is for DA to distribute these through full grant.

“Should we continue with the old guidelines you will not avail these projects today,” he told the farmers.

In the past, farmers associations and cooperatives are required to pay an equity ranging from 10%-15% to avail such projects.

He explained that he was not opposed to the previous scheme but pointed out that the old strategy limits the access of small farmer organizations that could not raise large amounts for the counterpart.

He also reminded the Bids and Awards Committee of DA 12 to choose bidders that offer the best quality of product, saying “this is the new order of the President, we go for quality.”

Sec. Piñol also announced that he wants DA to be the sole implementer of farm-to-market road project and added that he has already asked Senator Loren Legarda ang the Department of Budget and Management to rationalize rural road programs implemented by different government agencies so that the country will have one network of FMRs.

“Our backlogs in farm-to-market roads is 13,000 kilometer. With small budget I will not be able to fulfill the commitment of the president which is to finish all farm-to-market roads in the country,” Sec. Piñol said. DA’s P6 billion allocation for FMRs could only construct 6oo kilometers, he added.

Thus, he recommended that the government should mainstream to DA the implementation of FMR projects; and allow DA to coordinate with LGUs – not with congressmen — to identify FMRs. (CUAguillon-DA-RAFIS 12/DEDoguiles-PIA12)