BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Thirty rice-based Farmer’s Cooperatives and Associations in Western Visayas have received the first batch of farm machinery worth P48 million under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) last week.
Romar Areno, Visayas cluster head of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, said 10 precision seeders and 20 riding-type transplanters, each amounting to P1.6 million, were distributed to Aklan, Capiz, and Iloilo.
PhilMech also turned over two riding-type transplanters to farmers’ groups in Aklan, Antique Capiz, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental, which received eight units, Areno added.
“These machines are used for planting rice. The precision seeder can plant pre-germinated seeds on a dry land preparation while the riding-type transplanter can plant young rice seedlings on a wetland preparation. Both can plant in a precise row spacing,” Areno said.
The farm mechanization component of RCEF seeks to benefit 38 farmers’ cooperatives from the 37 municipalities in Western Visayas, which was sourced from the 2019 budget.
The RCEF mechanization component also seeks to increase the farmers’ productivity through efficient and cost-reducing rice mechanization interventions to eligible farmers’ groups, RemelynRecoter, director of DA Region 6, said.
Western Visayas has a P193.78 million allocation out of the P2 billion national budget for the first tranche implementation of the RCEF farm mechanization program, she added.
Aside from the mechanization, the rice fund also aims to support the local rice farmers through the provision of quality seeds, access to credit, and rice extension service, Recoter said.
Meanwhile, farmers group’s need to apply for DA accreditation to avail of the interventions, and each member should have at least 50 hectares of rice areas to qualify, Areno said.
He said the association must have a minimum rice area of 100 hectares within the peripheral barangays from the proposed location of the agricultural machinery and postharvest facilities.
“It is also important that farmer groups can operate the machinery and equipment we provide”, he added.
Areno also said that other machinery and equipment such as four-wheel-drive tractor, hand tractor, floating tiller and combine harvester will be turned over to the farmers within the year.*