DA vows more aid for Cordillera farmers

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA) has committed to give more support to Cordillera farmers.

DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who led the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) Project Steering board meeting on Friday, said a PHP19.8-million budget to enhance the operation and service of the government trading facility located here, has been approved.

He said the budget covers the repair and improvement of its cold storage facility.

“Our plan is to make BAPTC not only for vegetable trading center, but also a trading center for other products that are needed for the Cordillera,” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief said it will start the exchange of commodities among traders in the Cordillera and from other parts of the country, such as in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“I think it will not only stabilize the price of farm products, but also ensure better income for the farmers,” Piñol said during a press conference held after the launch of the TienDA outlet in Benguet.

He said the increase was in recognition of the Cordillera farmers’ good standing in repaying their loans from the Production Loan Easy Access program under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.

“For paying their loans 100-percent, farmers in the Cordillera region, most of them engaged in high-value vegetable production, will now have access to a P100-M credit facility from the Department of Agriculture through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC),” Piñol said.

“I’m glad to report to you that the performance of Cordillera farmers ay napa-ganda (very good), 100 percent ang kanilang repayment,” Piñol said, adding that some 285 local farmers have availed of the loan program of the government.

In a related development, Piñol together with Benguet Governor Crescencio Pacalso, La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, other government officials and local farmers witnessed a demonstration on a drone that sprayed vegetable farms at the strawberry fields in this town.

Piñol said this modern way of spraying is adoptable in the region, considering that farmlands are situated in mountainous areas.

To encourage local farmers to adopt this technology, he announced that his department is sponsoring the payment of service fees for the first 5,000 hectares of farmlands in the region that will make use of drones developed using Japanese technology.

Piñol added that after the first 5,000 hectares, farmers will shoulder the service fee of PHP1,500 per hectare. PNA-northboundasia.com