Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte will come to Negros next month to lead the Bigas ng Masa program launch of the Department of Agriculture.
The exact date is, however, still to be confirmed.
In an interview Saturday night, Masculino said the DA already hasthe approval by the Office of the President that Duterte will come to Negros Occidental in April, adding that this will boost the morale of rice farmers in the province to participate in the program.
Neg. Occ. will pilot this program that aims to help farmers’ cooperatives to produce and sell rice lower than P40 per kilo.
Masculino said Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. hopes that the arrival of the President will fall during the celebration of the Panaad sa Negros Festival on April 14 to 22.
“The arrival of the President only shows that the support to really increase rice production to achieve sufficiency is present,” he said.
Apart from rice production, Bigas ng Masa also aims to give support services to rice farmers in the province as the program will give P20 millionfor production and another P20 million for trading, he said.
The Bigas ng Masa program is a tripartite agreement among the DA, the Negros Occidental provincial government, and a farmers’ cooperative that will sell commercial rice at less than P40 per kilo, DA Secretary Manny Piñol said, when he visited the Rice Processing Complex in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City, in Negros Occidental, on March 3.
His plan is to maximize the utilization of the RPC by turning it over to a farmers’ cooperative because, after its ceremonial opening by then President Benigno Aquino III, the facility was left idle for 5 years.
He added that the Bago City RPC was established by the DA in 2012 during the previous administration for P25 million, with a provincial counterpart of P35million.
Piñol said it only became operational after he issued a warning that the DA, under Duterte, will take back the Bago City RPC if it isnot made useful.
Masculino also said that they are now identifying the farmers’ cooperative that will be part of the program as he had presented it to the city and municipal agriculturists at their monthly meeting.*MLG
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