CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Sept. 15 (PIA) -- Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he sees promising future as Central Luzon leads the way in terms of rice agriculture.
During his visit in Magalang town, the DA executive said farmers in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac provinces are harvesting a minimum of six to ten tons per hectare of rice using the hybrid rice technology.
However, he said despite their high yield, most farmers cannot sell their palay because there are only those buying it at PhP11.00, as compared to the National Food Authority (NFA) which buys it at PhP19.00 per kilo.
With this, Dar said there is a need to teach the farmers to strengthen their cooperatives or associations so they can also do the business of buying and selling rice.
"NFA is only good for buffer stocking. Hoping in the future, when farmers have established cooperative and associations, they can also buy palay so they can mill and sell it. Our vision is for them to have cooperatives and associations which are equipped with rice processing centers," the DA chief said.
Meanwhile, to help them cope with the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, he said farmers and agripreneurs may still avail of the Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project.
"Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, an amount of PhP2.5 billion was allotted to serve as capital to farmers and agripreneurs. Regions who need this will be given additional funds," Dar said.
Under this, a marginal farmer or fisher can borrow PhP25,000 with zero interest, and payable in 10 years.
The other category is for micro and small enterprises in agriculture, wherein they can borrow as high as PhP10 million with zero interest and is payable in 25 years.
He said DA, in partnership with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Philippine Air Force (PAF), is also currently cloud seeding in Pantabangan areas to have more rains-induced areas for higher crop yield.
Aside from that, Dar said they are also preparing for La Nina to ensure that this will not have devastating effects to the crops.
"Hopefully, the coming La Nina will not have devastating effects, but would be just enough to fill up most of the dams that we have, which is needed to do second cropping of rice, especially in Nueva Ecija and other parts of Region 3," he said. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)