Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Government Allocates Loan Support for Farmers to Boost Rice Production

To help boost rice production in the country, the government is extending funding support for the farmers in irrigated areas.
Dubbed as Sikat Saka, a lending support exclusively for irrigated areas through Land Bank of Philippines (LBP), a total of P1.6 billion has been allocated for the program nationwide that started since 2012.
Initially, the program covered only 25 provinces but eventually expanded to 45 provinces in the country. In Caraga Region, Agusan del Sur is the sole province covered by the program since Agusan del Sur has the biggest area of rice production among five provinces in the region with almost 50,000 hectares.
Maria Theresa Espinido, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer of Agusan del Sur said that Department of Agriculture conceptualized the Sikat Saka in support to the Food Staples Sufficiency Program.

“This program aims to help palay farmers to access timely, adequate and affordable production credit,” she explained.
Under Sikat Saka, a small farmer in an irrigated area duly endorsed by an accredited irrigators’ association through National Irrigation Administration (NIA) can access credit assistance of P41,000 per hectare for inbred and P50,000 per hectare for the hybrid.
Small farmers refer to farmer tilling at least one half (1/2) hectare of irrigated land but not to exceed five (5) hectares.
“Currently, a total of 60 farmers had already availed the lending program amounting to P5 million and we are encouraging other farmers to avail the fund,” Connie Galeon of Land Bank of the Philippines South Caraga Lending Center said.
Funding support can be utilized solely for palay production based on farm plan and budget certified by the respective local government unit.
Sikat Saka has a diminishing interest rate starting from 15% down to 9% per annum upon reaching the eighth crop cycle. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ensuring Food Supply thru Consumers and Farmers Resiliency

Amidst the current spike of the price of rice, members of the Grains Monitoring Team (GMT) in Caraga Region is eyeing strategies to promote resiliency among consumers and farmers.

Melody Guimary, corn program coordinator of the Department of Agriculture Caraga said that rice is not the only source of carbohydrates but to include other food staples such as banana, root crops, and corn.

“It is high time that people should try to explore other food sources such as corn grits, ” Guimary said.

She said that DA is currently campaigning for the consumers to include corn in their table through Rice Corn Blend (RCB).

“On their preference ratio, consumers may mix corn and rice to lessen the cost of food in the family since price of corn is lower than rice to almost double, thus extending the value of peso ” Guimary explained.

She also said that DA is aiming to boost production of the flint type white corn through the establishment of model farms currently at Las Nieves and Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

Aside from production, DA is also embarking for aggressive marketing through establishing local processors to engage in processing and blending of rice and corn for convenient access of the consumers,” she said.

Rice and corn might be blended based on consumer preference such as 70:30, 50:50 or it can be 100% pure corn.

“One of the strategies to boost corn production in the region for human consumption is establishing corn processing equipment along side with the established Rice Processing Complex (RPC) so that RPC could not only process rice but to include corn, ” Guimary added.

Marissa Garces, rice program coordinator said that cooperators of RPC in the region, are currently capacitated to be agricultural traders.

“We are helping our RPC farmer cooperators through training not only to process rice but to engage in trading, with the provision of the needed equipment and capitalization so they can start buying the rice produced within the community, processed and sold it at a much lower price, ” Garces explained.

As of presstime, in Caraga Region, there are six RPC’s who are fully operational, two for testing, and seven on going-construction.

GMT is a multi-sectoral body composed of members both from government and private. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)