ILOILO CITY -- The turnover of over PHP143.98 million in loans, farm machinery and other support programs highlighted the sixth visit of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to Iloilo on Friday.
In his message during the turnover of farm equipment at the Western Visayas Agricultural Research Center in Hamungaya, Jaro district here, Piñol explained that coming back to Iloilo every now and then was a “fulfilment of a dream that my grandfather never achieved – better life.”
The secretary led the mass distribution of some PHP75.1 million worth of farm machines to farmers associations from Antique, Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo.
These were 31 units of pump and engine; 25 units of four-wheel drive tractor; 35 floating tillers; eight transplanters and 12 cultivators.
“We really believe that unless we mechanize we will never be able to improve the productivity of our farmers,” he said.
He cited that the lack of post-harvest facilities result to some 16 percent losses in grains and 40 percent in fisheries.
DA also acquired 3,000 bags each of hybrid and certified seeds worth PHP9.885 million and PHP3.879 million, respectively, and 6,000 bags of fertilizers worth PHP5.124 million.
In the morning, the secretary turned over the PHP30 million loan assistance fund for farmers of Hamtic, Antique and PHP20 million for those in Miagao, Iloilo. The amount is intended as loan assistance under the Production Loan Easy Access program handled by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
Piñol said that the PHP30 million for Hamtic represented the first tranche of the PHP300 million he has committed to Antique farmers.
Meanwhile, he promised PHP50 million to Miagao in addition to the cold storage facility that will be used by onion growers of the town and its adjacent municipalities.
The secretary said that DA has been fast tracking the release of support to farmers.
Regional offices were ordered that at least 90 percent of the fund released to them must be disbursed. Otherwise, unused fund will just revert to the Bureau of Treasury.
The failure to release the target fund would put question to their absorptive capacity while at the same time services intended for farmers were not delivered.
“We don’t want to create bad impression in the budgeting system,” he added.
He emphasized that they wanted all projects fast-tracked because “people are tired of waiting.”
The secretary added that the “immediate delivery of services” is the trademark of the Duterte governance. (PNA)