The government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), has allotted P700 million that farmers can avail of as loans to mechanize their farms and boost productivity.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced the allotment during the opening of the five-day First Philippine Sugarcane Farming Mechanization Expo in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province, on Monday.
Of the amount, P400 million will be coursed through DA and is meant for rice and vegetable farmers; the rest, through SRA.
Piñol urged industry stakeholders to go into mechanized farming, saying it was key to the survival of the country’s sugarcane industry and attaining “greater productivity and efficiency.”
“We are just introducing [this]option for farmers. The government will only assist” in this matter, Piñol said.
“The secret to greater income is greater productivity,” he added.
Sugarcane farms in the country currently yield on average 59 metric tons per hectare, compared with Thailand’s 75 MT per hectare
DA aims to increase this yield to at least 70 MT, noting that an addition 11 MT would allow farmers to earn more.
According to the Agriculture secretary, mechanizing farms would be faster and more efficient, and allow farmers to cover larger areas in a short period.
“Efficiency plus productivity equals greater income for the farmers,” Piñol said.
Farmers producing 8 MT of palay (unhusked rice) per hectare would earn them P100,000 more, compared to those producing only 3 MT at a given price of P20 per kilogram, he added.
Farmers have been using traditional agricultural methods, which are more expensive because manual labor causes delays, resulting in a decline in quality, Piñol said.
“For us to be productive, we should embrace modern technology,” he added.
One challenge facing Philippine agriculture today is farmers’ slow adaptation of modern technology, according to DA.
This is not because “we do not have the capacity to buy the equipment, but [because]there is too much resistance from stakeholders,” the Agriculture secretary said.