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DA constructs P56-M rice processing center in Bicol

One more rice processing center (RPC) built by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for Php 56 million to be the second in Bicol has been turned over to farmers, this time in the island province of Masbate.

The facility, with a floor area of 300 square meters, is a permanent building equipped with a multi-pass rice mill and mechanical dryer with biomass furnace now serves as a warehouse where farmers can store their palay, especially during rainy season.

It is one of the facilities developed by the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) which can be availed of by farmers' associations under the Rice Mechanization Program of the DA.

This program aims to optimize the use of modern technologies in farming and offers machinery and equipment that lessen the drudgery of field works, lower operational cost and increase farmers' yield and income.

The new RPC was turned over recently by DA Regional Executive Director for Bicol Abelardo Bragas based here to the Narangasan Multipurpose Cooperative in Milagros, Masbate, Emily Bordado, the DA regional spokesperson, on Thursday said.

The cooperative is a 300-strong group of rice farmers that helps the government in its rice self-sufficiency efforts under the DA’s Agri-Pinoy Program on Rice that provides new technologies, hi-bred seeds and farm mechanization equipment, Bordado said.

The group has been made beneficiary of the agriculture intervention program in line with the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program that has something to do with the rice self-sufficiency target with the implementation of medium-term agricultural sector mechanization and modernization program, which commenced in 2011 and to last until 2016, she said.

Bordado described Milagros as a second-class coastal and lowland municipality of Masbate whose people rely mainly on fishing and farming for their living.

The first agricultural productivity support of this kind provided by the DA in Bicol was awarded early last month to the San Antonio Farmers Irrigators Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SAFIMCO) of Buhi, Camarines Sur, as another token for its winning of the national Rice Achievers Awards of the DA last year.

It is a concrete building, also with a 300-square-meter floor area, built by DA engineers within a 1,500- square-meter lot that now benefits not only the over 420 members of SAFIMCO but also all the rice-farming communities in nearby barangays, according to Bordado.

It is also equipped with a double pass rice mill with a milling capacity of one ton per hour.

Both these multi-million-peso facilities that farmers in Camarines Sur and Masbate now enjoy serve as a big gift representing the commitment of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to help the agricultural sector grow through the DA, Bordado said.

“They don’t feel neglected by the government now. They also have committed to continue supporting government programs in agriculture implemented by the DA whose leadership headed by Sec. Proceso Alcala, they trust with confidence, noting his sincerity in helping alleviate the plight of the agricultural sector,” she added.

These groups of farmers have been instrumental to Bicol’s attaining of regional rice self-sufficiency as of last year wherein the region achieved 99.75 percent of the target and recorded a 5.96-percent production growth rate over 2012.

With that, Bicol achieved a 118.19-percent rice self-sufficiency level, which means Bicolano farmers produced 18.9 percent more than the amount local consumers could eat, agricultural production data collated reports say.

The region was expecting only around 844,000 metric tons (MT) in rice yield for a 102.6-percent rice self-sufficiency level based on the projected regional consumption of over 822,000 MT in 2013.

The region’s palay yield also increased from 3.51 MT per hectare in 2012 to 3.62 MT last year, representing a 3.13-percent growth rate, the same records show. —by Danny O. Calleja (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/
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