PASAY CITY, Metro Manila—Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol congratulated rice farmers in the country for the record-high palay production of 19.28 million metric tons (MT) last year and stressed their integral part in the national thrust for rice sufficiency.
During the 2017 Rice Achievers Awards, Piñol lauded the efforts of Filipino farmers and committed to support them through sustainable initiatives such as the easy access credit program and establishment of solar-powered irrigation system.
In his opening speech, he stressed that subsidy programs no longer work because it only leads to corruption and long and slow procurement process, among others.
“We thought of ways to give farmers the freedom to choose the seedlings, machineries, and other materials they need. Through the easy access credit program, farmers can have the necessary resources to improve their productivity,” Piñol said, adding that loans should not be difficult for farmers in the first place.
Piñol and Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar led the awarding of outstanding small water irrigation system associations (SWISAs), irrigators’ associations (IAs), provinces, and cities and municipalities for their contribution to the overall rice production in the country.
Awarded as outstanding SWISAs are Bingao Small Water Irrigation System Association, Inc. (Region I); Barangay Ilaya Kikoy Farmers Association (Region VIII); and Lamare Small Water Impounding System Association, Inc. (Region IX).
The outstanding IAs under the national irrigation system are Kasaganahan Irrigators Association (Region VIII); Molave-Mahayag Farmers Irrigators Association (Region IX); Bagong Silang Irrigators Association (Region II); and Durian-Dacudao Irrigators Association (Region XI). Meanwhile, the top IAs under the communal irrigation system are the United Farmers Association, Inc. (Region XI); Lalawan Sawaga Simaya Farmers Irrigators Association (Region X); Barbaza Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. (Region VI); and Baleguian Organic Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. (Region XIII).
Lamare SWISA, Inc. secretary Gina Lava spoke at the ceremony and thanked the DA for its programs such as the High Yielding Technology Adoption and Farmers’ Field Schools that enabled them to continue increasing their rice harvest in the past three years .
“We are very fortunate to receive such award and we are committed to use all the blessings we receive for the improvement of our organization so that we can uplift the livelihood of our members and help our fellowmen,” Lava said.
On the other hand, Kalinga, Bulacan, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay were named the top-producing provinces. Moreover, the outstanding municipalities and cities were Tabuk City, Kalinga; Manaoag, Pangasinan; San Mateo, Isabela; Paniqui, Tarlac; Magdalena, Laguna; Sofronio Espanola, Palawan; San Jose, Camarines Sur; Bago City, Negros Occidental; San Miguel, Bohol; Alangalang, Leyte; Molave, Zamboanga del Sur; Malaybalay City, Bukidnon; Hagonoy, Davao del Sur; Tulunan, Cotabato; and Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.
Winners received trophies and checks for Php500,000 for outstanding SWISAs and IAs; Php1 million for outstanding municipalities/cities; and Php4 million for outstanding provinces. Special citations were also given to 15 provinces, 10 SWISAs, and seven IAs.
In her speech, Sen. Villar vowed to push for legislations that will ensure appropriate funding for the development of the coconut, livestock, poultry, sugar, and rice industries. She underscored that the key to making Philippine rice at par with its ASEAN neighbors like Vietnam is by lowering the cost of production as well as mechanization.
“The Philippines is an agricultural country and the average Filipino diet is based on rice. The outstanding palay production last year will truly have a significant impact in the performance of the agriculture sector,” she said.
The Rice Achievers Awards is an annual event of the DA family since 2011 that aims to acquire the full cooperation and support of the local government, organized groups of farmers and irrigators, and extension workers in securing national food production.
The awarding ceremony also served as the culmination event for the celebration of the Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month. It was held at the Philippine International Convention Center on May 31, 2018 and was attended by around 500 guests.