During the Rice Harvest Festival in Tabacao, Talavera, Nueva Ecija, the President was shown the efficiency of the Combined Rice Harvester/Thresher which could harvest three hectares of paddy rice in one day.
Seeing the impressive performance of the Harvester/Thresher, President Duterte asked me how many units of the harvesters have been distributed to farmers' groups by the department.
When I told him that the department has already granted to farmers close to 100 harvesters, the President said there is a need to acquire more machineries to modernise agriculture.
"Buy more machineries. I will give you the money," he said.
The farm mechanization rate is a very low 8% in the Philippines, one of the lowest in the region.
The low mechanization rate and lack of post-harvest facilities have resulted in the wastage of 16% of the total grains harvest in the country.
The President also instructed me to make sure that in the mechanisation program, the farm workers will not be displaced and that they would be given livelihood projects.
That was when I told him that the DAF has already started a program called "Makinadong Magsasaka" or "Mechanized Farmers" where farm workers are organised into groups and trained on how to operate, maintain and repair farm equipment.
The program aims to make the displaced farm workers as service providers who will serve the needs of the landed farmers by plowing the fields using tractors, transplanting rice seedlings, harvesting and even drying.
The President said that mechanisation will make the Filipino farmers efficient and more productive which in turn will make him competitive in the face of the ASEAN integration.
In Talavera, the President also announced that he has stopped the planned additional importation of rice from Vietnam by the National Food Authority in view of the expected bountiful harvest this year.
PhilRice Executive Director Dr. Sailila Abdula earlier reported that for the first time in the history of rice farming, the country's farmers posted a 4.15-metric ton average yield per hectare per harvest, breaking the previous average of only 3.9MT per hectare.
According to the satellite data gathered by the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSm) which were validated on the ground, a total of 4,142,960 metric tons was harvested from an area of 997,687 hectares during the First Quarter of 2017 compared to only 3,932,292 metric tons from a bigger area of 1,081,096 hectares during the same period in 2016.
‘Anong mukha ko na iharap ko sa farmers? Why would we allow importation to compete with local product?’ Hanggang ngayon, hindi ko mabasa anong ginawa nilang rason. Of course, hindi natuloy dahil binara ko. Subsequently, sabi ko, stop… Open market na tayo, pero you know, you have to protect the Filipino,” Pres. Duterte said during his speech in Talavera.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #UnliRice!
(Photos of the President in Talavera, Nueva Ecija and Lamitan Basilan taken by DA-AFID. Photos of the farm equipment downloaded from public websites.)