Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY ER­WIN P. NICAVERA

on the use of the newly-pur­chased trans­planter dur­ing the launch­ing of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s farm mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram at the 200-hectare model farm at Barangay Taloc in Bago City yes­ter­day.

THE Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment of Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal has of­fi­cially launched its farm mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram, which is po­si­tioned to greatly help rev­o­lu­tion­ize the prov­ince’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor into a stronger one.

The ac­tiv­ity high­lighted by the demon­stra­tion on op­er­at­ing the newly-pur­chased farm mech­a­niza­tion equip­ment was held at the 200-hectare rice model farm at Barangay Taloc in Bago City.

It was at­tended by Gover­nor Al­fredo Marañon Jr., Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist Japhet Masculino, Bago City Mayor Ni­cholas Yulo, City Agri­cul­tur­ists Car­l­ito In­den­cia, and re­cip­i­ent­farm­ers, among oth­ers.

Masculino the provinceled fo­cused mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram through the devel­op­ment of the model farm has ac­tu­ally started dur­ing the sec­ond crop­ping sea­son last month.

How­ever, they have yet to wait for the ar­rival of the re­main­ing pur­chased equip­ment so they can of­fi­cially launch the pro­gram, which is now in full swing.

“Si­mul­ta­ne­ous with the for­mal launch­ing is the demon­stra­tion of how the farm mech­a­niza­tion equip­ment should be op­er­ated,” Masculino said, adding that “this will en­able farm­ers to see and learn how to use these ma­chiner­ies in their re­spec­tive rice farms.”

The 200-hectare model farm is com­prised of 160 farm­ers, who are mem­bers of New­ton-camin­gawan­para (Ne­capa) Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

Of the to­tal rice pro­duc­tion ar­eas, only 70 hectares were able to use trans­planters due to de­lays in the ar­rival of equip­ment.

All of the farm­ers of the model farm are ex­pected to fully mech­a­nize dur­ing the har­vest stage in Fe­bru­ary or March next year, the pro­vin­cial agri­cul­tur­ist said.

In fact, some of the farmer-mem­bers of Ne­capa are some­how “hes­i­tant” to the pro­gram pos­si­bly be­cause this is new to them and that they have not yet seen the re­sult, Masculino said.

“There are re­ally chal­lenges in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gram, es­pe­cially now that we are just start­ing,” he said, adding that these will serve as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the Of­fice of the Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist (OPA), lo­cal agri­cul­tur­ists, and farm­ers.

In terms of seeds used, half of the model farm was planted with in­bred seeds. The re­main­ing 100 hectares uti­lized hy­brid seeds.

Masculino said they will com­pare the re­sults be­tween in­bred and hy­brid seeds, and de­ter­mine other ef­fects when close su­per­vi­sion by the agri­cul­tur­ists is pro­vided to the en­tire model farm.

Re­cip­i­ent-farm­ers are or­ga­nized into clus­ters which will be su­per­vised closely by cor­re­spond­ing agri­cul­tur­ists.

Through this strat­egy, Masculino said they hope to in­crease the pro­duc­tion out­put of the farm­ers and lessen their pro­duc­tion cost.

“With the pro­posed tar­if­fi­ca­tion law lib­er­al­iz­ing im­por­ta­tion, there is a need to de­velop and help our farm­ers to com­pete with those in other coun­tries in terms of cost,” he said.

Masculino stressed that “if we will not help our farm­ers, we can­not com­pete with an av­er­age pro­duc­tion cost of P10 to P12 per kilo­gram com­pared to only P6 to P7 of other coun­tries.”

Aside from im­por­ta­tion, the tar­if­fi­ca­tion will also al­low ex­por­ta­tion and rice trad­ing as well as ef­fec­tively lift­ing quan­ti­ta­tive rice im­port re­stric­tions.

It can be re­called that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated P25 mil­lion for the pur­chased of farm mech­a­niza­tion equip­ment.

The first batch of these ma­chiner­ies worth P9.2 mil­lion were ob­tained by the prov­ince ear­lier in Novem­ber. These in­cluded harvesters, trans­planters and laser lev­eler.

The re­main­ing equip­ment worth P15.8 mil­lion, which al­ready ar­rived, in­cluded ad­di­tional harvesters and trac­tors.

Un­der the mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram, the prov­ince will pro­vide the ma­chiner­ies and op­er­ate the farm from land prepa­ra­tion, trans­plant­ing to har­vest­ing.

Farm­ers will not pay such ser­vices dur­ing the start of pro­duc­tion, but af­ter they can har­vest, OPA ear­lier said.

It added that once the pro­gram is suc­cess­ful, it will be ex­panded to other ar­eas covered by the Bago River Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem and even­tu­ally to other ir­ri­gated ar­eas in the prov­ince.

Masculino said that, in the process, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment may also pro­vide tech­nol­ogy trans­fer aside from other win­dows for fi­nan­cial sup­port.

He re­it­er­ated that through the mea­sure, they hope to trans­form the lo­cal agri­cul­ture sec­tor to a bet­ter one.

The prov­ince is re­ally bank­ing on farm mech­a­niza­tion to boost the lo­cal rice sec­tor while help­ing farm­ers im­prove their prof­itabil­ity, Masculino added.

For his part, Marañon said the pro­gram is in­tended for Ne­grense farm­ers to be able to make their work eas­ier and faster at the same time in­crease their pro­duc­tion.

“Bago City is the pi­lot area for the farm mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram, it will also be repli­cated in other lo­cal gov­ern­ment units in the prov­ince,” he added.*



GOVER­NOR Al­fredo Marañon Jr. (left) with Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist Japhet Masculino (2nd from left) dur­ing the launch­ing of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s farm mech­a­niza­tion pro­gram at the 200-hectare model farm at Barangay Taloc in Bago City yes­ter­day.

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