NEGROS Occidental is the first area in the country to implement the “Bigas ng Masa” program that aims to sell commercial rice at less than P40 per kilo, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
In a recent visit to Bago City Rice Processing Complex (PRC), Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, informed provincial agriculturist Japhet Masculino of the plan to maximizing the use of farming facility by turning it over to a farmers’ cooperative.
During the previous administration, DA funded the establishment of the Bago City PRC for P25 million with a provincial counterpart of P35 million in 2012 but the facility’s was left idle after the ceremonial opening by then President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“It was only when I issued a warning that the DA, under President Duterte, will take back Bago City PRC if it is not made useful, that the facility became operational,” said Piñol.
After the DA chief’s visit, the provincial government is now operating Bago City PRC as an economic enterprise.
The PRC operation will be turned over to a farmers cooperative which will be given a P20-million loan by the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) for their members under the Production Easy Access Program. The DA-ACPC will give the cooperative another P20-million loan to be used in buying the farmers’ produce.
The farmers’ palay (unpolished rice) will be milled in the PRC and sold at less than P40 per kilo in Bigas ng Masa outlets in all towns and other centers in Negros Occidental.
Bigas ng Masa is a program initiated by the DA nationwide to link farmers directly to consumers. .
“The strategy is expected to increase farmers’ income and bring down the price of food commodities in the market,” Piñol said.