Rice technology demo farm established in Ilocos Norte town

Deputy Director General for Research Jackie Hughes of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) demonstrates mechanical transplanting of the high-yielding rice variety IR8 during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of "IR8 Rice that Changes the World" held at IRRI Zeigler Experiment Station in Los Baños, Laguna on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. BEN BRIONES/PNA -

LAOAG CITY — In support of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) farm mechanization program, the municipal government of Solsona is now teaching local farmers how they can become more productive and less dependent on intensive labor in crop production.

In partnership with Kubota Philippines Inc., a two-hectare rice technology demonstration farm was established in Sitio La Paz, Barangay Juan to showcase the use of mechanical transplanter.

“This is to show to the farmers of Solsona the importance of farm mechanization in addressing the lack of labor force in farming and a way to lessen the labor cost which is a big burden to our farmers,” Mayor Alexander Calucag, who is himself a farmer, said Wednesday.

Solsona town in Ilocos Norte is among the top rice-producing municipalities in the country, having well-irrigated rice fields in most areas.

“With this initiative, we will be able to realize our three-year Agriculture and Fishery Strategic Plan, with farm mechanization as a very important component,” Provincial Agriculturist Norma Lagmay said.

She expressed belief that there would be fewer farmers in the next five years in the province, hence, farm mechanization is among the effective ways to boost productivity, and at the same time help them become agri-entrepreneurs.

For Marnelli Colobong, agricultural technologist of the Solsona government, the townsfolk are fortunate to have a very supportive local chief executive in terms of agriculture development.

“We just need to let our farmers know that farm mechanization does not deplete labor force but it is meant to complement it,” said Colobong.

As part of the farm mechanization program of the DA, farmers are being encouraged to organize themselves as one solid organization or form cooperatives to avail of farm machineries.

Under the implementing guidelines on the provision of the farm machineries to viable cooperatives and farmers organizations, the DA shoulders 85 percent of the total machinery cost while the 15 percent is paid by the association.

In Ilocos Norte, a number of Zajeras or farmer organizations have already acquired some of these farm machineries.

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