GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 August) — The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) in Region 12 released on Monday some P200 million worth of farm machineries and post-harvest facilities to farmers’ groups in parts of Region 12.
DAF Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, who led the distribution of the grants, said the initiative is part of the national government’s commitment to modernize and improve farm productivity in the countryside.
He said the released farm machineries and post-harvest facilities were part of the agency’s flagship agricultural mechanization program.
“It seeks to increase productivity and lower the post-harvest losses of our famers,” he said during the distribution program on Monday afternoon held at DAF-Region 12’s Central Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CEMIARC) in Tupi, South Cotabato.
The country’s agriculture sector loses about 16 percent of harvests while an estimated 40 percent of fishery catches are wasted due to the absence of post-harvest facilities.
The grants were released by the agency through the local government units (LGUs) in Region 12, which is also known as Soccsksargen.
The recipients were farmers associations and cooperatives in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Sarangani and this city.
The distribution was attended by South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Sultan Kudarat Gov. Sultan Pax Mangudadatu, several mayors, vice mayors and other local government officials in Region 12.
Milagros Casis, DAF Region 12 director, said the release of the equipment and farm machineries was in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive for the granting of more direct government assistance to local farmers.
For the equipment, she said the President ordered that “farmers should no longer be required to pay an equity of 10 percent” of their total cost.
In the previous years, farmers groups and LGUs were required to put up 10 percent equity for the availment of farm equipment and facility grants.
Last year, Pinol discovered in his visit to CEMIARC in Tupi “hundreds of millions” worth of farm machineries and equipment that were not released to recipients in Region 12 due to the equity requirement.
In the case of a P3-million equipment, for example, he said recipients need to raise P300,000 so it would be released to them.
He noted that the machineries and equipment were left under the sun and some already rusting.
“President Duterte last year directed me not to make things difficult for the farmers who would like to avail of the mechanisation program of the government,” he said in a statement.
Pinol said the equipment distribution by DAF-12 on Monday marked the first of a series of regional farm machineries and equipment distribution all over the country.
A similar activity is scheduled next week in Iloilo province for farmers in the Western Visayas region. (MindaNews)