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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 9, 2018
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Rice bumper crop seen
but price watch urged

Negros Occidental is expecting a rice bumper crop this year, and will further hasten its thrust towards achieving 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by stepping up farm mechanization, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said yesterday.

Masculino assured that the reported National Food Authority shortage of rice stock will not affect Negros Occidental's supply.

Negros Occidental has a lot of rice supply now with the ongoing harvests, he said, pointing out that the big stock in the hands of the millers and farmers in the province.

On top of that, the NFA is expecting the arrival of 25,000 more bags of imported rice in Bacolod soon.

Masculino said he hopes the bumper crop will bring the prices of rice down in the province, but that will depend on market forces, which include artificial shortages.

It is important that local governments activate their price monitoring councils so if prices are not right, they can intervene, he said.

Negros Occidental, from an 88 percent rice self-sufficiency level in 2016, hit 90 percent last year, Masculino said.

Higher production is expected this year with the provision of certified and high breed seeds, he added.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Masculino stressed the importance of shifting towards farm mechanization to increase rice yield per hectare and ensure bigger profits for farmers at the Negros First Organic Technology Center in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City, yesterday.

Rice farmers joined Marañon andMasculino to witness how farm machinery can hasten planting and harvesting of rice, at reduced cost.

They witnessed how a rice combined harvester can harvest 1-hectare of palay in one and a half hour, and how machinery can hasten preparation of soil, planting of rice and making of levees.

The governor said the provincial government aims to provide service provider cooperatives with such machinery to assist rice farmers, amid the diminishing number of available farm workers.

Masculino said that with the build buildbuild thrust of the government, there is a growing shortage of farm workers who are now into construction work.

Through mechanized farming, farmers will be able to cut production cost by P10,000 and will have less wastage that will assure them of higher yield, he said.

The provincial government is also encouraging rice farmers to go into organic farming to further reduce production cost, and to be able to sell their produce at higher rates, he added.

He pointed out that rice planted at the Tabunan demo farm of the provincial government is all organic.

Marañonalso said that with mechanized farming farmers will be able to hastily harvest their produce if there is an incoming storm.

On top of the provincial government allocated funds for agriculture, Masculino said that, hopefully, the Department of Agriculture's P200 million for Negros in 2018 will also push through.

Bago Mayor Nicholas Yulo, Board Member VictorJavellana, Tabunan Barangay Captain Maria May Suarez, Edgardo Uychiat - president of the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, and farmer Gregorio Mapa, who were inTabunan yesterday, also stressed the need to go into farm mechanization with the diminishing number of farm workers, and the need to raise yield and profit margins.*CPG



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