EXCITEMENT was written all over the faces of farmer-beneficiaries after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) turned over Thursday three heavy tractors and 170 different kinds of farm implements to 126 farmers’ organizations in Central Luzon.
The distribution of farm implements is a priority program of the DAR under the administration of Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes as the Aquino administration is gearing towards mechanized farming to keep pace with its Asian counterparts.
Dizon said the P36-million farm implements, which also included 117 hand tractors, 21 power tiller cultivators, 18 palay reapers, seven palay threshers and seven corn husker shellers, were given away under the Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS).
Dizon said the government is giving away free farm implements in grants to show its seriousness to help farmer-beneficiaries enhance their dignity and improve the quality of their lives through greater productivity of the farmlands awarded to them under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The Esperanza-Manggitahan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (Esmarbeco) in Aurora, and the Miyabe-yabe Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPC) and the Panayotti Farmers-Irrigators Association (PFIA) in Pampanga appeared to be the biggest winners as they went home with a 90-horse powered Massey Fergusson heavy tractor each. Each heavy tractor cost P2.9 million.
DAR-Central Luzon ARCCESS coordinator Joselito Aguinaldo clarified, however, that there is actually no big winner in the distribution of farm implements.
Aguinaldo said that each qualified organization receives farm implements depending on their actual needs and based on the assessment and evaluation of state colleges and universities in their respective localities.
“For example, a hand tractor suits best for a rice farmer. To give him a heavy tractor is not ideal for it will most likely get stranded in the ricefield. But a heavy tractor is best suited for a corn farmer. So, a farmers’ organization gets what is really suited for their farming activities,” Aguinaldo explained.
Esmarbeco president Wilfredo Biado, 57, said he and his fellow farmer-members are grateful to the Aquino administration for the heavy tractor that was granted to them as it would help make farming less burdensome physically and financially for them.
Biado added that his group is lucky to be granted two heavy tractors, owing to its being a big organization made up of farmers from three barangays – Esperanza, Manggitahan and Dimasisit. However, only one was awarded to them during the awarding rites, with the second one to be delivered soon.
“Now, we are seeing a great future ahead of us as we do not have to rent the services of a heavy tractor from a private individual or group for farm preparation at P2,000 per hectare. Of course, we will be renting out our heavy tractor but the proceeds will redound for the benefit of our cooperative members through dividends based on their share capitals,” Biado said.
Experts said that lack of capital, excessive physical activity and less financial reward are some of the factors that are driving farmers’ children away from the farm and to look for other kinds of job. The country’s agriculture industry accounts for 70 percent of the poorest of the poor.
Through ARCCESS, the government hopes to reverse the situation by providing farmers as much as it could the kinds of support services that they badly needed to make the lands awarded to them more productive and the farming profession more rewarding financially.