Monday, 2 February 2009

Philippines allots P15.22B for agriculture projects

By GENALYN KABILING
The Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN20090202147124.html

The Arroyo government has set aside P15.22 billion to finance irrigation projects, farm-to-market roads (FMR), and post-harvest facilities to boost agricultural production and pump-prime the economy this year.

At least 170,000 new jobs will be created from the implementation of three major support programs for the agricultural sector this year, based on a government report listing its accomplishments in 2008 and plans for 2009.

Last April, President Arroyo laid down the P43.7 billion- FIELDS (Fertilizer, Irrigation and Infrastructure, Extension and Education, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities and Seeds) program to ensure rice selfsufficiency in five years.

From the P15.22 billion budget, the government will allocate P6.7 billion for irrigation projects; P3.7 billion for farm-to-market roads; and P4.9 million for post-harvest/post-production facilities.

In the report prepared by Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the irrigation projects cover the rehabilitation and restoration of 148,000 hectares of national and communal irrigation system and installation of 11,642 hectares of small-scale irrigation projects.

For FMR projects, the government plans to build a total of 2,433 kilometers of new roads for 2009.

Included in the post-harvest facilities projects are the installation of 2,742 units of mechanical dryers worth P1.92 billion; establishment of processing/training centers in 35 sites with P1.3 billion budget; establishment of seven units hatcheries worth P131.11 million, and 17 units mariculture parks worth P60.83 million; establishment of fishports in 11 sites worth P637.20 million; installation of postproduction facilities estimated at P30 million; establishment of ice plants in two sites worth P12.60 million; establishment of composting facilities in 1,379 sites worth P483.40 million; and, setting up of 230 greenhouses worth P59.65 million and 131 packing houses worth P245.73 million.

"These FIELD Projects are expected to generate a total of 172,233 jobs, broken down into 103,301 for irrigation projects, 22,9000 for FMRs, and 47,026 for post-harvest facilities," the report said.

In the same report, the government said it has distributed 3.2 million fertilizer discount coupons to farmers, among other accomplishments of the FIELDS program as of December 2008.

A total of 10,828 hectares of irrigation areas were generated, 74,259 hectares were rehabilitated, and 45,252 hectares were restored last year.

At least 217,669 farmer-households benefited from the 3,229 kilometers of constructed/rehabilitated FMR projects, from which 35,351 jobs were generated. The government also conducted 5,783 training and 212 research and development activities to generate production-enhancing and cost-reducing technologies.

Around R3.18 billion loans were released to 108,760 farmers and fisherfolk under the agro-industry modernization credit financing program. At least R6.32 billion loan assistance for palay production was also released through the Land Bank of the Philippines to 221,110 farmers.

Around 596 flatbed dryers were distributed and installed to minimize post-harvest losses and maintain grain quality for better prices. Four corn post-harvest processing and training centers were also established.

As of December 15, 2008, the government distributed 55,189.12 metric tons of certified seeds and 2,850.72 MT of hybrid seeds.

To support agriculture and fisheries production, 8.2 million planting materials, 28,279 animals, and 122.3 million fingerlings were distributed.

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