BACOLOD City – The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) is proposing a counter-parting scheme with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for its farm mechanization program in Negros Occidental.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said they will meet anew with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol after the latter expressed positive response about the proposal.
As of Wednesday, Masculino said they are preparing to put the proposal in writing.
“We will set another meeting with Secretary Piñol for the sharing arrangements,” he said.
Masculino, who talked to Piñol during the distribution of land titles in Sagay City last Friday, said the OPA is working on the proposal as soon as possible.
Earlier, he said the provincial government will spend an additional PHP40 million to boost its farm mechanization program.
Under the proposed scheme, the province will have a counterpart of 20 percent, he added.
“If we have PHP40 million, the remaining 80 percent or PHP160 million will come from the DA’s Rice Enhancement Program (RCEF),” the OPA chief said.
The provincial government, under Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., has been pushing for farm mechanization, mainly to help farmers improve productivity and profitability by reducing production costs, and has recently considered it as one of the measures to allay the possible adverse effects of the Rice Tariffication law to Negrense farmers.
In 2018, the province allocated PHP25 million for the purchase of farm equipment, but these can cover only “minimal” rice production areas.
Masculino said the target is to fully mechanize the entire rice production areas of the province in three years.
Once the proposal is approved, the PHP200-million counterpart fund of the province and the DA can purchase at least 30 sets of machines, including tractors, harvesters and transplanters.
Last December, the provincial government started its farm mechanization program during the launching in the 203.85 hectares of rice farm in Purok Camingawan, Barangay Taloc, Bago City.
Bago City, dubbed the rice granary of Negros Occidental, was identified as the pilot area because of its huge potential for rice production. (PNA)