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.