• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The sugar industry farm mechanization program got a boost after getting 80 units of tractors and other farm equipment from the Japanese government, funded under the Japan Non-Project Grant Aid, amounting to P314 million.
In a statement, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Paul Azcona, who recently received the tractors and farm equipment, thanked the Japanese government for “this much needed gift to our sugar farmers to increase productivity and efficiency.”
Of 51 farm tractors up for deployment in Visayas sugarcane areas, 24 will be in Negros Occidental, and 11 units are intended for Negros Oriental, Azcona said
He added that Iloilo will get six units of tractors, four units for Leyte, while Cebu and Capiz will be getting three each.
Azcona also said that Luzon sugar areas will be getting 15 tractors, while Mindanao will have 14 units for their use.
Also included in the shipment were 48 units of sugarcane planter, 48 units of lateral flair mower and five power harrow units.
Under the grant agreement which was entered into by the Department of Finance and the SRA with the Japanese government in 2021, the sugar regulatory agency will be the owner of the farm machineries and implements procured through the grant.
SRA is expected to submit an impact assessment report to the DOF and the Japan government, three years after implementation.
To ensure the sustainability of the program, the farm machineries and implements will be consigned to selected farmers group for a fee that is proportional to their cost of maintenance and upkeep.
Azcona said this “blessing” is “very much timely as we just started the new milling season.”
“We in the industry are grateful to both the Japanese government and our own (government), for this initiative that will go a long way, in helping our sugar farmers become more efficient and productive,” he added.*