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PBBM leads South Cotabato’s Consolidated Rice Production, Mechanization Program launch

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. addressed a crowd of a thousand farmers as he led the launching of the South Cotabato’s Consolidated Rice Production and Mechanization Program (CRPMP) in Barangay Liwanay, Banga on Wednesday, June 14.

The province’s CRPMP, a brainchild program of Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., will feature a 4.1-hectare Integrated Rice Processing Center (IRPC) worth P655.8 million that will soon rise in the same barangay of Banga town.

Upon arrival, President Marcos and his Cabinet officials, led by Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr., were warmly welcomed by Governor Tamayo along with other provincial officials as he showed the president the project billboard for the IRPC.

In a speech, President Marcos commended Gov. Tamayo for coming up with the Consolidated Rice Production and Mechanization Program for farmers in the region.

The president also emphasized the program's importance in boosting rice production in the area.

“Alam ng lahat kung gaano kahalaga ang pagkain at nakita po natin, naramdaman po natin noong mga Enero, Pebrero nakita po natin dahil sa gulo sa pagpapalit nasira ang mga ekonomiya ng pandemya  tapos nagkagyera pa sa Ukraine eh naramdaman po natin nagtaasan ang presyo ng lahat ng bilihin lahat ng agricultural commodity ika nga ay nagtaasan eh kaya naman nakita natin at naghihirap tayo kasi tayo nag-iimport tayo ng bigas kumukuha tayo sa Thailand ‘tsaka sa Vietnam…” the chief executive said.

He said the country’s labor costs are expensive compared to Vietnam and Thailand, which is why the launch of CRPMP is important since mechanization would address the problem.

But Marcos said the utilization of big machines cannot be maximized unless there is huge farmland, so the consolidation of several hectares of land is needed for it to work effectively.

 “Bakit mahalaga yung consolidation napakasimple. Ang presyo ng production cost natin sa Pilipinas ang labor cost natin yung labor ‘yung nagtatanim, nag-aani ‘yung labor cost na ‘yan ay doble ‘yan dito sa Pilipinas kung ikukumpara mo sa Vietnam at sa Thailand. Kaya sinasabi naming paano nangyari ‘yan eh ang madaling sagot n’yan ay mechanization," the President noted.

“Ibig sabihin, imbes na kinakamay ay ginamitan ng malalaking tractor, malalaking mga planter, malalaking mga harvester lahat ‘yan, ngunit hindi magagamit ‘yang mga malalaking makinarya na ‘yan kapag ang ginagamitan lamang ay less than 1 hectare, kailangan, kaya’t pinaguusapan lagi ‘yung consolidation,” he added.

The president emphasized the importance of consolidating the farmlands, which is exactly what the province did, starting from 100 hectares to now 1,400 hectares.

With that, Marcos Jr. is confident that there will be a reduction in production and labor costs and, at the same time, an increase in production yield per hectare.

He also recognized farmers’ contributions in the agriculture industry as he emphasized their role in sustainably boosting the country’s food supply and preparedness so that nobody will get hungry when a calamity or pandemic strikes.

“Kaya’t ginawa natin prayoridad na kailangan na kailangan na tiyakin natin na unang-una magkaroon ng sapat na food supply eh may sapat na pagkain para sa ating mga kababayan at hindi tayo aabutin kahit na may mangyari pa maulit man ang mga krisis kagaya ng pandemya ay makakaasa tayo na kaya natin pakainin lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino,” the President pointed out.

Noting that the consolidated farmers would eventually become a corporation, the president urged them to not only bring their farm produce to the market but also undertake a "supply-contract" sale strategy for each year with their contact buyers to ensure they have a steady flow of income.

President Marcos also said that he really envisions elevating farmers’ quality of life, noting that the province’s consolidation and mechanization program will help him attain it as it mirrors exactly that goal.

According to the president, ensuring that there is a sustainable supply of rice, low production and processing costs, and a quality livelihood for farmers are among the many tasks that the government, from the national to the local, must be prepared to deliver.

“Kaya kailangan ang pinagtrabahuan nila ay maibabalik sa kanila sa kikitain nila,” he told farmers, national and local government officials, and other stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Governor Tamayo Jr., the newly appointed vice chairperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, described the program as a huge help to the farmers of South Cotabato.

He guaranteed the president that the program would not only boost the farmers’ rice yield but also increase their income and at the same time reduce the price of rice.

 “Kaya’t ang ginawa po natin dito yung mga maliliit na magsasaka na mayroong isa or dalawang lupain lamang ay kinonsolidate natin dahil naniniwala po tayo na pag na-iisa’t maliit ang magsasaka ay para itong stick na madaling mabali ‘pag nag-iisa pero pag kinonsolidate natin at binuo alam natin mahihirapan na baliin ito at tayo ang magdidikta kung anong gusto nating mangyari sa ating mga produkto,” he said.     

Gov. Tamayo also assured farmers that even if there is an easing down of the price of rice in the future, this will not affect their production yield or income.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) XII has also committed over P52 million in support of the project to the provincial government.

The assistance includes P18 million for the construction of a warehouse; P5 million worth of a hauling truck; over P6.7 million worth of 1,350 bags of wet and dry season hybrid seeds; and over P22.7 million worth of 6,759 bags of fertilizers.

Aside from DA, its attached agency, PhilRice, has also distributed 5,945 bags of various inbred rice varieties along with 500 pieces of IEC materials for a total of P225,910 to benefit 1,751 consolidated farmers.

In addition, a total of P61 million under the DA’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Mechanization Program as assistance to the soon-to-be rice center was also awarded to the provincial government through President Marcos.

President Marcos also oversaw the distribution of checks for financial support from other national government agencies, such as the Technical Education and Skills and Development Authority, intended for its RCEF Scholarship Program in the amount of P6.1 million and for Project TALA in the amount of P3.5 million, including the P72,211 from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation as payment for the settlement of indemnity claims. (CTA/PIA SarGen)

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Catherine Apelacio

Information Officer III

Region 12

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