DA-12 expands assistance programs to rice farmers

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 May) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 has expanded its assistance programs to local palay farmers as it moves to increase the region’s palay production to 4.04 metric tons (MT) per hectare before yearend.

Ray Embajador, focal person of DA Region 12’s Agri-Pinoy Palayan Program, said Monday they have intensified anew the promotion of various palay production technologies and the use of high-yielding hybrid rice varieties among farmers to help improve the region’s palay output.

He said such initiative is part of the agency’s efforts to increase the area’s palay surplus and further build up its rice self-sufficiency.

Southwestern Mindanao, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Citing a report released by DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Embajador said the region’s average palay production last year reached 3.67 MT, which is considered when compared to other top palay-producing regions.

“We’re targeting to increase that output by 10 percent or within the 4 MT level by the end of the year,” he said.

In 2012, BAS noted that Region 12’s total palay output reached 1.27 million MT or a rice sufficiency rating of 128 percent.

The region ranks fifth among the country’s 17 regions in terms of palay yield and accounts for about 7 percent of the national harvest of 18.03 million MT.

Region 12 has remained as Mindanao’s rice granary, producing about one-third of the island’s total palay production that reached 3.98 million MT last year.

To help achieve the region palay production target, DA-12 regional executive director Amalia Jayag-Datukan said they have earlier set aside sufficient funds for their assistance programs and projects.

Aside from the distribution of high quality palay seeds, she said the agency is currently working on the acquisition and construction of more postharvest facilities in the region to address the projected wastage of about 17 percent during the palay processing stage.

For this year, she said DA-12 has allocated around P225 million for the farm mechanization component of the Agri-Pinoy rice program.

Datukan said the funds were earmarked for the acquisition of rice combine harvesters and threshers as well as the construction and rehabilitation of multi-purpose drying pavements, warehouses, sheds and related facilities.