Re-elected Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is urging the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech) to upscale support to farmers by providing farm machinery.
Villar, the keynote speaker during the Philmech’s 41st anniversary celebration here Tuesday, said mechanization is vital in empowering farmers amid liberalization in agriculture.
“Yan ang mission natin, na kailangan i-empower nila yung mga farmer sa Pilipinas (That is our mission, we need to empower farmers in the Philippines) by giving them machinery and teaching them how to use it, how to maintain it,” said Villar in an interview after the event.
She said that Philmech is one of the agencies specifically stated in the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law that provides a PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Aside from mechanization, Villar cited the need to encourage farmers to use inbred rice which the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), also based in this city, produces.
She advised the Department of Agriculture against using RCEF allocation in purchasing hybrid rice seeds.
“Pwede nilang gamitin yung P7-billion budget nila pero hindi ang RCEF (They can use their PHP7-billion budget but not the RCEF),” she said.
As yet another form of support, she asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to use its PHP28-billion conditional cash transfer fund, popularly known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), in procuring locally produced rice.
“Kumausap sila ng mga kooperatiba ng farmers doon sila bumili and then doon din i-distribute sa lugar na where the cooperatives are (They have to talk to the farmers cooperatives to procure rice and then distribute to the places where the cooperatives are),” she added. (PNA)
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