Friday, September 22, 2017
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Piñol denounces ‘oppressive’ rice traders in Panay, Guimaras

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Thursday denounced “oppressive” rice traders in Panay and Guimaras after knowing that their buying price of palay here is only between PHP10 to PHP12 a kilo.

Piñol, here for the opening of the three-day Makina Expo 201, said he cannot understand why the prices here are so low when in fact Iloilo in particular is a rice granary (of Western Visayas.)

“I can’t understand this but somebody should have pointed this out a long time ago. This is oppression; this is no longer business. This is exploitation and I denounce it,” he said.

He vowed to “do my best to liberate them from the situation.”

The agriculture secretary cited that his first action will be to address the financing concern of farmers so they “can be liberated from the control of traders.”
He explained that since farmers borrow capital from rice traders, then they have no choice but to sell their produce to the lenders. The DA will also look into providing them with post-harvest facilities and most importantly, they have to be organized to get capital.

He will also ask the National Food Authority (NFA) to set up buying stations in Western Visayas.

“The buying price of palay here is depressed. The farmers are oppressed. So you come here, you buy the produce of farmers so they would be able to recover,” he urged.

DA-6 regional executive director Remelyn R. Recoter said that in 2016, Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental, has produced 1.895 million metric tons of palay.

“We really have to improve the productivity of the farmers. Right now your productivity for rice is only about 3.3 metric tons per hectare while in Nueva Ecija they are already harvesting 12 metric tons,” he said.

On the other hand, the secretary underscored that the ongoing “Makina Expo” is very significant, especially to Iloilo rice farmers.

Piñol said that farmers are starting to appreciate the necessity of modern technology in farming as they learn of its benefits.

“In fact because of this, there has been a marked increase in the average yield all over the country. We used to be just 3.5 metric tons per hectare. Today we are 4.38 (metric tons) only after one year,” he revealed.

The challenge he said is changing the mindset of the farmers as they “always tend to embrace what it is that makes them feel comfortable, the old practices, old seeds and old planting habits.”

Currently, DA is giving out free equipment but only to farmers’ organizations.

The expo is being held simultaneously at the Iloilo Convention Center and the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC), Hamungaya, Jaro.

It aimed to enhance awareness on the effectiveness of using modern agricultural machineries and update the farmers on the latest mechanization technologies in the Philippines and in other countries, according to the DA.

Apart from exhibits and lectures, one of the highlights of the event is the field demonstration of equipment such as tractor, transplanter, rice combine harvester, and solar and pressurized irrigation system, and proper repair and maintenance of engines.

Participants are expected to learn of the developments in local riding type rice transplanter, multi-purpose seeder, rice hull gasifier engine pump system, multi-rows onion seeder, cassava digger, and grain proe moisture meter to be presented by experts from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).

They will also introduce the use of cacao wastes for industrial and commercial application, drying technologies for fermented cacao beans, bio-control agents in managing crown-rot disease of banana, among others, according to the DA press statement.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will also tackle various technologies on aquaculture, capture fisheries, and postharvest activities.

PHilMech and private agricultural engineering companies will also exhibit and showcase the latest farming and irrigation machineries and equipment in ICC. (PNA)

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