THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is hopeful that its proposal to seek a P900-million loan from the Japanese government, which will be used to mechanize select rice farms nationwide, will be signed during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Thursday he hopes to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the farm mechanization program loan during the visit of Prime Minister Abe to Manila in the third week of January this year.
Piñol said the proposed Japanese yen loan will provide farmers in 10 model sites nationwide with farm equipment that will include grains dryers and post-harvest facilities, technical support and institutional development.
Piñol added that the mechanization program will be implemented in tranches, adding that they have already identified some 10,000 hectares for pilot testing.
“Each of the model sites would have clusters of rice farms totaling 1,000 hectares per area,” he said.
“In each of these clusters, the DA will coordinate with established cooperatives to handle the management of the farm equipment and the lease of the equipment to local farmers,” he added.
Piñol said the DA hopes the farm mechanization program would succeed in raising the productivity of local farmers and in reducing post-harvest losses, which currently reaches an average of 16 percent of rice harvested nationwide.
Raising productivity will include lowering the average production cost shelled out by rice farmers, which is currently estimated at an average of P12.41 per kilo of rice produced nationwide, he said.
At present, JICA is assisting in the construction and rehabilitation of rural infrastructure facilities such as irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities and potable water supply systems all over the Philippines.