The first batch of recipients of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Mechanization Program (RCEF-MP) are optimistic that the machines given to them would improve their productivity and lives, according to interviews a number of recipients conducted by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).
Under RCEF-MP, PHilMech distributes to qualified farmers cooperatives and association (FCAs) various farm machines as grants funded by an annual P5-billion allocation. The recipients all thanked Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, the chair of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture; Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar; and PHilMech Director Baldwin G. Jallorina for the machines given to them at no expense.
All of the FCAs that have gotten farm machines, through their officers or representatives, expressed optimism that the equipment they received under RCEF-MP will help the cultivate palay (unmilled rice) in a shorter time, reduce production cost, lessen postharvest losses, help address farm labor shortages, and attract more of the youth to farming, among many others.
“Maraming salamat sa aming natanggap na four-wheel tractor kasi napakalaking tulong po nito na mas mapapabilis po yung paggawa sa sakahan. Ito po yung mabilis na paraan upang yung pag-laland prep po namin ay mas maayos. Hindi po lingid sa inyong kaalaman na kumakaunti na po ang farm workers kaya napakalaking tulong po nito. Maraming Salamat po sa DA, sa PHilMech, kay Senator Villar at sa lahat ng tumulong para magkaroon po kami nito (We are very grateful for the four-wheel tractor given to us as this would be of great help to us. This equipment makes land preparation faster and more orderly. Many people also do not know that there is a shortage of farm workers, so the four-wheel tractor will be beneficial to us. We thank the DA, PHilMech, Sen. Villar and to those who helped us get this farm tractor),” said Lyn David of the Pilar Magsaysay Irrigators Services Association Inc. In Pilar, Bataan.
Marissa Ferrer of the Carriedo Malabog Irrigators Association Inc. in Licab, Nueva Ecija said the machines they received will help them get through the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“Ito po ang tulay para umangat kaming magsasaka lalo na po ngayon na inabot po natin ang krisis na ito (The assistance will help us farmers especially now that the we are also affected by the coronavirus crisis),” she added.
Bonifacio B. Fagela, a farm machine operator of the Arangkada Sto. Domingo Federated Farmers Association Inc. in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, said the machines they received like combine harvester rice and transplanter will help them lessen their cost in cultivating the crop.
“Napakalaking kabawasan sa gastusin, nappadali ang pagsasaka at nababawasan din ang problema sa kawalan ng mapagtatrabaho sa tuwing panahon ng pagtatanim at pagaani ng palay (The machines will help us lessen our costs in cultivating rice as work will be faster and the issue of not finding farm workers will be lessened both in the stages of planting and harvesting palay),” he said.
He added that they will take good care of the machines given to them.
In Cavite province, Danilo M. Prurificacion, president of the City Agricultural and Fishery Business Group in Dasmarinas City, said the combine harvest they received will also help address labor shortages in rice farming.
“Kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa pagkakaloob sa amin ng isang rice combine harvester na malaki pong tulong ito sa aming mga magsasaka dito sa Dasmarinas sa kadahilanang medyo mahirap na po ngayong humanap ng taga ani,” (We are very thankful for the rice combine harvester given do us that is a big help to us as it is hard to look for workers for harvesting palay),” he said.
For Gregorio Ramos Jr. of the Naguilian Irrigators Service Association Inc. in Naguilian, La Union, the machines given to them will help work faster in the field and lessen costs.
“Lubos po ang aming pasasalmat sa malaking tulong para umangat lalo ang estado ng aming paumuhay bilang magsasaka at mapadali ang trabaho at mabawasan ang malaking gastusin sa pagsasaka (We are thankful for the great help to improve our lives as farmers and to make work faster the fields and lessen our costs),” he said.
He added the machines given to them will also help other farmers in their locality to increase their harvests, as his cooperative can now provide services to them like land preparation and harvesting.
“At the same time, makakatulong sa ating mga magsasaka na upang tumaas ang kanilang kita (We can help our fellow farmers to increase their incomes),” he said.
For Dionisio Q. Pablo of the Detailen Maria Aurora Irrigators Association, Maria Aurora, Aurora, the farm machines given to them will help young people to farming.
“Ito ay kailangang-kailangan sa ngayon gawa nang sa panahong ito ang mga kabataan ay mahirap nang hikayatin sa pagsasaka (The farm machines are needed in this time as it is hard to attract the youth to farming),” he said.
Impact on wet season planting
Jallorina said the initial positive feedback they got from the recipients of the farm machines shows that agricultural can have an impact on agriculture and the rural economy.
The PHilMech director said the agency will get more feedback from the onset of the wet or main rice planting season.
“With the main or wet planting season for rice starting soon, we expect the farm equipment given under RCEF-MP to have an impact both in cost reduction and cost efficiency,” Jallorina said.
PHilMech has so far distributed 570 units of farm machines in six regions that form part of the P2-billion worth of machines that were successfully bidded out and purchased by the agency early this year.
The agency is currently bidding out the next batch of farm machines worth P5.5 billion, of which P3 billion forms part of the machines that was supposed to be acquired in 2019.
Before the end of the year, PHilMech will bid out another P2.5 billion to complete the P5 billion worth of machines to be distributed this year under RCEF-MP.