BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that the cash and food assistance given to farmers and fisherfolk, and the distribution of RCEF mechanization and other interventions of the Department of Agriculture will provide the needed boost to improve production, optimize the income capacity, and mitigate the debilitating effects of the pandemic to the agricultural sector in the province.
Lacson, in yesterday’s turnover of machinery and equipment, worth around P220 million, to farmers of Negros Occidental at the Panaad Park in Bacolod City, said the farm school support and the scholarship grants will also give the needed encouragement and empowerment to the younger generation to take serious interest in farming.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the turnover yesterday of the interventions funded under the DA Regular Program and the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization’s (PhilMech) Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) mechanization component.
Lacson said as a developing nation, the Philippines is also determined to be an industrialized country.
“However, it cannot be negated that we remain predominantly agricultural. In Negros Occidental, almost half of our land area remains to be agricultural lands, our farmers and fisherfolk continue to be among our straitened sectors,” he added. “We have aging farmers, with the average age between 57-60 years old. Our young people seemed to have lost interest in pursuing the vocation.”
Lacson said it is for these reasons that developing agriculture and uplifting the lives of farmers are among the main thrusts of the provincial administration. “We need to be reminded that agriculture is the foundation of our food security, and even the foundation of our survival.” We are presently navigating a difficult and developing situation, with the very serious task of saving both lives and livelihood. However, we, in Negros Occidental and Western Visayas take encouragement in the fact that we remain to be among the top palay producers in the country and our production even increased in the first half of the year, he added.*