Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced the release of about P46 million in projects and farm equipment to rice farmers of Negros Occidental, and launched a P98.9 million crop insurance program at rites held in Barangay Bagroy, Bago City, yesterday.
He also promised to give the rice farmers a P6 million rice mill, and dryer with operating capital, to be set up in Barangay Bagroy, a liquid nitrogen plant for artificial insemination of livestock, and free aerial spraying of organic micro nutrients on about 1,000 hectares of rice lands in Negros Occidental in October.
Alcala said all these were being done to uplift the lives of farmers and ensure that the Philippines becomes self-sufficient in rice next year, as directed by President Benigno Aquino.
He disputed the Asian Development Bank claim that the Philippines would miss its target of attaining rice self-sufficiency next year. Such assessment was made by people sitting in airconditioned offices, he said.
Alcala also lauded Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. for his support for the agriculture sector in Negros Occidental, noting that the province is expected to become self-sufficient in rice by the end of this year.
“If half of the governors of the country were like Marañon, the Philippines would see more progress,” he said.
At the same time Alcala, assured that the DA has the funds to immediately respond to El Niño problems through cloud-seeding and the use of shallow tube wells. As soon as early signs of El Niño were noted in Bohol cloud-seeding operations were immediately conducted, he said.
Launched by Alcala in Bago yesterday was a free crop insurance program to cover nationwide farmers who engage in a third rice cropping from August to September this year.
The program aims to cover 91,495 farmers tilling 91,495 hectares of rice lands with P914.9 million in insurance, of which the government will provide the premium subsidy of P98,906,000, he said.
Also launched by Alcala and Department of Social Welfare and Development regional director, Minda Brigoli, was a P2.5 million cash for work program to cover 879 beneficiaries from the poorest of the poor households.
The recipients will be paid for irrigation restoration work, Brigoli said.
Turned over to farmers irrigators associations were 10 rice threshers, 30 hand tractors, 6 rice tansplanters, 8 flatbed dryers, 9 multipurpose drying pavements, one rice combine rice harvester, 5,740 laminated sacks and 272 collapsible dryer cases.
Alcala also distributed farm tools, cacao and coffee seeds, and raffled off 20 goats, 10 carabaos with plows, two threshers and two handheld tractors with trailers raffled to the farmers present yesterday.
Jovy Bernabe, Philippine Crops Insurance Corp. president, lauded Marañon for the Negros First Crop Insurance program that has provided free insurance for farmers, and bared PCICs efforts to replicate it.
Antonio Nangel, National Irrigation Authority administrator, bared NIA’s work at expanding the irrigation systems in Negros Occidental, while Rosemary Caunca, president of the Negros Occidental League of Federations of IAs Inc., thanked Alcala for all the assistance given to rice farmers of Negros Occidental.
Marañon also thanked President Aquino for his assistance to the farmers, citing the larger budget allocated to the DA of which Western Visayas was among those who got the biggest shares, and for appointing Alcala as the agriculture secretary.
By next year Negros Occidental will be a rice exporter, Marañon said, adding that it is also the lamb capital of the Philippines now.
Alcala said a DA survey shows that that there are 5,000 lambs in the country, but Marañon pointed out that Negros Occidental had recently imported 6,000 heads that have since given birth to more than 1,000.
Negros Occidental is also number one in poultry and number three in swine production in Western Visayas, he said.
Present at the DA rites were Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District) and mayors Ramon Torres of Bago, Juliet Marie Ferrer - La Carlota City, Jose Maria Alonso – Pontevedra, Mario Magno – San Enrique, Marxlen de la Cruz – Don Salvador Benedicto and Francisco Nazareno – Moises Padilla, and Valladolid Vice Mayor Glory Gomez.*CPG