BACOLOD CITY – The sugar industry sees a boost in production with the support of 800 million yen (about PHP300 million) worth of farm machinery donated by the Japanese government for the benefit small sugarcane farmers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The donation, which is under the Japan Non-Project Grant Aid, was received by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona from the Embassy of Japan’s Agriculture Attaché Jumpei Tachikawa, during the ceremonial turnover held at the SRA office grounds here on Saturday.
“I’m glad to see the SRA steer the sugarcane industry in the right direction with its productivity programs, but there is more to do beyond immediate concerns here in Negros. We look forward to the programs and collaborations such as this that allow us to tackle the challenges head-on,” Laurel said.
The donated farm machinery included 80 tractors (641.52 million yen), 48 sugar planters (38.32 million yen), five power harrows (11.04 million yen), and 48 lateral flail mowers (108.96 million yen).
“I’d like to express my gratitude to Mr. Jumpei Tachikawa, the first secretary and agriculture attaché at the Japanese Embassy, who has been instrumental in the success of this program,” Laurel said, adding that “modernizing Philippine agriculture is key to meeting the President’s (Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.) and the public’s expectations of more affordable and accessible food items.”
Laurel said the Philippines’ partnership with the Japanese government helps the national government address such concerns through modernization and mechanization.
“Our two nations are bound by common interests. Our trading partnership, which brings greater prosperity and opportunity to citizens of both our countries, has grown dramatically in recent years,” he added.
Azcona said the donation of the Japanese government is a “very generous gift” to the sugar industry.
“This is a big help since we are moving forward to be globally competitive. The farmers need to go mechanized,” he said.
Most of the 80 tractors will be turned over to sugarcane areas in the Visayas, mainly in Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province.
The tractors and other farm equipment will be consigned to farmer-cooperatives for a fee that is proportional to the cost of maintenance and upkeep.
Sugarcane planter Exequiel Marañon of the Sagay City-based Option Multi-Purpose Cooperative, one of the beneficiaries, said the tractors would benefit small farmers, or those tilling farms five hectares and below, during land preparation.
“It will decrease the cost of land preparation since some mill district development councils plan to reduce the rental of tractors by 40 to 50 percent. With this, we hope that we can have a very good production by next year,” he added. (PNA)