THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has received farm equipment from the Japanese government amounting to 800 million yen or P300 million for distribution to Filipino sugarcane farmers.
The Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa turned over the equipment donation to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona, and representatives of beneficiaries from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao on Saturday. SRA is an agency under the Department of Agriculture (DA).
A total of 181 units of various farm machines will be distributed to local and small sugarcane farmers under the Japan Non-Project Aid Program, Laurel said.
This includes 80 tractors, 48 sugarcane planters, 48 flail mowers, and five power harrows.
“Mechanization reduces hard labor, relieves labor shortages, and improves the productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations,” Laurel said during the turnover ceremony at the SRA Compound in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
He also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese embassy in actualizing the grant, adding that modernizing Philippine agriculture is key to producing more affordable and accessible food.
“Our partnership with the Japanese government helps us address this concern through modernization and mechanization… Our trading partnership, which brings greater prosperity and opportunity to citizens of both our countries, has grown dramatically in recent years,” Laurel said.
The SRA said sugarcane areas in the Visayas will receive 51 tractors, with Negros Occidental getting the bulk at 24 units; Negros Oriental with 11 tractors; Iloilo will get six tractors; Leyte will receive four tractors; while Cebu and Capiz will be getting three each.
Luzon sugar areas will get 15 tractors, while Mindanao will receive 14 units.
Under the grant agreement entered into by the Department of Finance (DoF) and the SRA with the Japanese government in 2021, the sugar agency will be the owner of the farm machinery and implements procured through the grant.
They will also submit an impact assessment report to the DoF and the Japanese government after three years of implementation.
On the other hand, the DA has played a significant role in the evaluation, approval and monitoring of the progress of the project titled” Farm Mechanization Program for Small Sugarcane Landholders.”
Laurel also commended the SRA for steering the sugarcane industry toward increasing its production through small sugarcane farmers.
The Agriculture chief added that he would consult with stakeholders and the DA bureaucracy to bring down the prices of food items like rice, sugar, meat, chicken, fish and vegetables by increasing food production.