Training, loans readied for Zamboanga Sibugay rice farmers
Roel Pareño ( - February 19, 2019 - 12:30pm

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines — The provincial government here is doubling efforts to support its farmers to cushion the high cost of rice production and address the possible impact of the tariffication of rice importation.

Included in the support are training to enhance productivity and the provision of loans at nearly zero interest to help ease the burden for local grain producers, said Gov. Wilter Palma.

On Monday, nearly 400 farmers coming from the 16 farming towns of this province formally completed the technological transfer and enhancement of farming techniques and were formally presented to Gov. Palma as part of its highlights in the 18th founding anniversary of Zamboanga Sibugay.

The province, which is fast becoming the rice granary of the region, has close to 50,000 hectares of rice fields both irrigated and rain-fed across its 16 towns.

Palma said the enhancement and technological transfer of skills in rice farming plus the loans provided by the national and provincial governments will reduce the cost of production.

He said just recently that the Department of Agriculture has already released an initial P10 million of the P100-million loan promised by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol following the rice shortage that hit Zamboanga City and areas of Basilan and Sulu last year.

“We have intervention. Last year we were awarded because of this. Our production increased... That’s a big help to the farmers,” Palma said.

Palma said the provincial government also provided also P20 million in counterpart funding.

He said each farmer will readily be provided with a loan of P20,000 per hectare of their land at one-percent interest. The provincial government will likewise pay the DA an interest of one percent on the loan.

Loan only for farmers using organic fertilizer

Palma said loan will only be provided for farmers engage in organic fertilizer.

“That is one of our policies, we will extend you the loan at P20,000 per hectare provided you buy or use organic fertilizer,” Palma said, citing the province's advocacy of organic farming.

Palma said the financial assistance through government-initiated loans help them “escape from the bondage of the nefarious loan shark, the usual 5-6 loan system."

Meanwhile, the farming community here has also diversified to engage in farming monggo and corn, which have high demand in China, according to Palma.

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