By Freddie Velez
CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan–For the fifth time, the Department of Agriculture awarded Bulacan as among the top five outstanding provinces that contributed and exerted efforts toward achieving rice sufficiency in the country during the Rice Achievers awarding ceremony held recently at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the province has yielded an average of 4.57 metric tons per hectare, higher than that of the national average yield of 4.09 MT per hectare in 2017 despite the challenges of land conversion and the competing use of water in Angat Dam because they focused more on interventions and programs on rice production while adhering to the thrust of DA of having good quality seeds and mechanization.
“Apat na taong sunud-sunod na kasama ang Bulacan sa 10 most outstanding provinces in rice achievement. Nakaraang taon ginawang pito kasama pa rin, and this year ginawang lima na lang kasama pa rin ang ating lalawigan sa nagpo-produce ng maraming bigas na kino-contribute natin sa rice sufficiency program ng bansa. Sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaisa, napapanatili nating balanse ang ating agricultural production at economic development,” Alvarado said.
Vice Gov. Daniel R. Fernando and provincial agriculturistMa. Gloria SF. Carrillo expressed their gratitude to the DA and to the people behind who helped them achieve such accomplishment.
Meantime, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chairman of the committee on agriculture and food, congratulated the seven provinces (five in category A and two in category B) and 15 cities and municipalities that received plaques and checks amounting to P4 million and P1 million worth of rice production-related projects.
The senator said the Filipinos should work altogether in reducing the production cost to P9 per kilo from P12 per kilo to be able to compete with Vietnam that produces the cheapest rice at P6 per kilo of palay in Asean.
“Philippines is an agricultural country and an average Filipino diet is based on rice, so we need to be competitive by mechanization and improving our technology, learning how to manage farms as small businesses and not just a farm, you should imprint in your minds that you are businessmen. We should also use hybrid and inbred seeds that can produce 6 MT per hectare at least kesa ngayon na 4.5 MT lang,” Villar said.
Moreover, she emphasized that the farmers should learn how to avail loans from banks that offer almost no interest and not on lending companies or those who offer ‘5/6’ terms of loans that will only bankrupt them. She also called on the National Irrigation Authority to lessen the cost of repairs and to invest more on new irrigation facilities.
Villar also shared some bills that she is trying to pass in the senate including the Coconut Development Law that gives additional P10 billion to coconut farmers, the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Development Law that will be giving P10 billion both as loans, the Climate-Base Free Crop Insurance that replaces the calamity fund and the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund from the Rice Tariffication Law that will allocate all tariff collections as subsidy to the farmers.
Furthermore, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol announced that there is now a fully operational P6.4-million solar-powered irrigation system in North Cotabato, which could irrigate 40-60 hectares with a development cost of about P100,000 per hectare only compared to P400,000 per hectare that the farmers are used to that can be imitated in the whole country to help ensure sufficient rice supply.
The province also received the Outstanding Provincial Agriculturist award along with one outstanding Local Farmer Technician and 16 outstanding Agricultural Extension Workers in the 2017 Regional Rice Achievers awarding ceremony held at Lewis Grand Hotel, Angeles City, Pampanga on May 25