THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Wednesday it turned over P1.52 billion worth of farm machineries and project grants to farmers and fishers from the Soccsksargen region.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the DA distributed around 370 units of farm machineries to the beneficiaries.
The projects were awarded to the beneficiaries during the mass distribution of farm equipment and various agricultural assistance in Koronadal City.
The farm equipment consisted of high-powered four-wheel drive tractors for both rice and corn, hand tractor with implements, combine harvester, and multicommodity solar dryer.
“Farm mechanization is one of the best ways to lower agricultural-production cost and improve the competitiveness of our farmers. It remains a priority of the government,” Alcala said in a statement.
He also attributed the region’s 128-percent rice self-sufficiency in 2014 to the pre- and postharvest facilities and interventions by the government.
“The entire region achieved 128-percent self-sufficiency in rice last year alone as most farmers here have experienced much-improved production with the help of our pre- and postharvest facilities and other interventions,” Alcala said.
The DA said the Soccsksargen region produced 1.364 million metric tons of palay last year. This is equivalent to 31.68 percent of rice production in Mindanao and 7.1 percent of the national rice production.
Alcala said he and DA Region 12 Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan also distributed other farm inputs and livestock animals to farmers and irrigators’ associations and local government units in South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
A total of P152 million worth of machines and implements, including fishing boats, motors and other equipment and facilities were also awarded by the DA Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to fishers’ organizations in the region.
The DA also turned over 19 farm-to-market roads worth P460 million under the Philippine Rural Development Project.
“Aside from assisting you [the farmers and fishers] in the production, the government wants to make sure that you are able to deliver your produce to trading areas in the best possible way,” Alcala said.
Alcala also led the inauguration of the Agri-Pinoy Center in Koronadal City. He said this will serve as the new home of the DA regional office.
“The building will serve as a venue in empowering the farming and fishing communities and the private sector so they may be able to produce enough, accessible and affordable food for every Filipino and adequate income for all, while attaining a food-staple sufficient Philippines,” the DA said.