NegOcc sees good year for local agri sector

BACOLOD CITY – The agriculture industry in Negros Occidental, particularly the rice and livestock sectors, is seen to perform well this year, its officials said.
In an interview Monday, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said since the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program that is now on its third year, the province is expected to receive more interventions from the national government such as quality seeds, farm machineries, crop insurance, and trainings for farmers.
“It is our hope that with these interventions, our farmers would become more competitive in terms of production and marketing,” he said.
Masculino said the province’s ultimate goal this year is to attain rice sufficiency as the level is now at only 85 to 92 percent.
With a higher average production per hectare last year, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) expects a higher sufficiency level in 2021.
“Our prayer is for a kinder 2021, where there is less natural calamities, and less infestation of pests and diseases,” Masculino said.
The RCEF, or Rice Fund, created under the Republic Act 11203, or the Trade Liberalization Law, is taken from the tariff revenues of the rice being imported by the country.
The RCEF has an annual appropriation of PHP10 billion for six years, 50 percent of which is allotted for rice farm machinery and equipment; 30 percent for rice seed development, propagation and promotion; 10 percent for expanded rice credit assistance; and 10 percent for rice extension services.
For the livestock sector, Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said Negros Occidental is pushing for a sustainable backyard raising-based industry this year.
He said farmer-raisers have already adopted the production methodology and animal health strategies, and started marketing their products through strong associations.
“The province shall remain a catalyst for the economic development of the local livestock and poultry raisers,” Decena said in a separate interview.
With a PHP6-billion swine industry, Negros Occidental has also maintained its African swine fever (ASF)-free status mainly through strict inspection and monitoring measures in ports and borders. (PNA)

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