• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The farm production of small sugarcane farmers in Negros Island and other sugar producing provinces got a boost, with the support coming from the Japanese government, which donated Y800 million (P300 million) worth of farm equipment.
Embassy of Japan Agriculture Attaché Jumpei Tachikawa, representing Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, turned over the farm equipment to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Sugar Regulatory Administration head Pablo Azcona, and representatives of various sugarcane farmers associations, in ceremonies held on Saturday at the SRA compound in Bacolod City, also witnessed by Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.
Laurel said that mechanization reduces hard labor, relieves labor shortages, and improves the productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations. At the same time, he also commended the SRA for steering the sugarcane industry toward increasing production through small sugarcane farmers.
The donation of 80 units of farm tractors, 48 units of sugarcane planters, 48 units of flail mowers, five units of power harrow, is under the Japan Non-Project Grant Aid Program.
“I’m glad to see the SRA steer the sugarcane industry in the right direction with its productivity programs, but there is more to do beyond immediate concerns here in Negros. We look forward to the programs and collaborations such as this that allow us to tackle the challenges head-on,” Laurel said.
Most of the 80 tractors will be turned over to sugarcane areas in the Visayas, mainly in Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province.
The tractors and other farm equipment will be consigned to farmer-cooperatives for a fee that is proportional to the cost of maintenance and upkeep.
Sugarcane planter Exequiel Marañon of the Sagay City-based Option Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which is among the beneficiaries, said the tractors would benefit small farmers, or those tilling farms five hectares and below, during land preparation.
“It will decrease the cost of land preparation since some mill district development councils plan to reduce the rental of tractors by 40 to 50 percent. With this, we hope that we can have a very good production by next year,” he added.* with PNA reports