Japan donates P314 million farm equipment to PH sugarcane farmers
BACOLOD CITY — The sugar industry’s bid to shift towards mechanization to bring down production costs and increase the country’s sugar supply got a huge boost on Saturday.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) received P314 million worth of farm equipment donated by the Japanese government for small sugarcane farmers.
Agriculture Attache Jumpei Tachikawa of the Japanese Embassy turned over the grant to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, and representatives of beneficiaries from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Modernizing Philippine agriculture is key to meeting the President’s and the public’s expectations of more affordable and accessible food items, Laurel said.
Laurel thanked the Japanese government for the 80 tractors, 48 sugarcane planters, 48 flail mowers, and 5 power harrows extended under the Japan Non-Project Aid Program at the turnover ceremony at the SRA Compound in Bacolod City.
The DA played a significant role in the evaluation, approval, and monitoring of the progress of the project entitled Farm Mechanization Program for Small Sugarcane Landholders, he said.
“Mechanization reduces hard labor, relieves labor shortages, and improves the productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations,” Laurel said.
He also commended the SRA for steering the sugarcane industry toward increasing its production through small sugarcane farmers.
Laurel reiterated that he would consult with stakeholders, including the huge DA bureaucracy, to accomplish President Marcos Jr.’s marching orders to bring down the prices of food items like rice, sugar, meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables by increasing food production.
Laurel noted that his experience moving up the corporate ladder allowed him to witness for himself the problems of the agriculture sector and the need for national and local authorities to work together to address the problems of Filipino farmers.
“I have been on a journey of administrative responsibility. I went to see first-hand conditions throughout the agriculture sector, to see how effectively national and local authorities are taking care of the Filipino farmers’ pressing problems and how they work together to support national food security,” he said.
Laurel thanked the Japanese embassy official involved in actualizing the grant.
“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,” he said.
“Our partnership with the Japanese government helps us address this concern 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.
Present at the turnover rites were SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, and Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who thanked the Japanese government for its donation.
Benitez said, “Today, agriculture is not about manual labor, it is really more of mechanization to become more productive.”