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The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office for Bicol has turned over and distributed a total of PHP38.9 million worth of equipment and postharvest machineries to qualified farmers associations and multi-purpose cooperatives in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Emily Bordado, DA regional information officer, in a phone interview Thursday, said the distribution of machineries is part of the agency’s objective to reduce post- harvest cost and losses.

Under the department’s Rice Program, distributed were PHP23.4 million worth of hand tractor with trailer, palay tresher, rice combine harvester, and mini 4WD tractor (36 HP) to various irrigators/farmers associations of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon, Bordado noted.

Under the Corn Program, on the other hand, awarded were PHP13.6 million worth of four-wheel drive tractor, mechanical corn sheller, cassava granulator and cassava chipper to farmers’ associations and cooperatives of Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon.

Meanwhile, distributed under the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) were PHP1.9 million worth of peanut sheller, knapsack sprayer and 4WD tractor to farmers’ associations of Camarines Sur and Albay.

Efren Duca Jr., recipient of farm equipment and chairman of San Fernando Farmers’ Federation for Agricultural and Community Development in Camarines Sur, said his group was provided with a combine harvester and a 4WD tractor, which they consider as early Christmas gifts from the government.

Rodel Tornilla, DA Regional Technical Director for Operations, encouraged the beneficiaries to be more responsible owners of the machineries considering that these were given free.

The members should be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment, he said.

Tornilla also said that those who received the equipment are fortunate because next time, the program would already implement a loan scheme with 2 percent annual interest payable within four years. (PNA)

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