Various types of farm machinery provided by the Department of Agriculture in the Caraga Region (DA-13) have been instrumental in boosting productivity among soybean farmers in Surigao del Sur, beneficiaries said.
DA-13 Executive Director Abel James Monteagudo said the machinery provided by the agency are working and helping the soybean farmers in improving their farming practices.
“Even before, with their not so advanced way, soybean farmers in Surigao del Sur already produce more than half of the country’s soybean supply. So we hope to provide them with more of the Department’s interventions to help them further boost their production and sustain it,” Monteagudo said in a statement on Friday (July 24).
He said the machinery will help soybean farmers produce fast with less cost and better quality of farm produce.
Among the groups of soybean farmers who received machinery support from DA-13 is the Meme Agricultural Farmers Association (MAGFA) in the town of Tago, Surigao del Sur.
MAGFA, organized in 2017, has 111 members who are engaged in soybean production in an area of 100 hectares.
The group’s chairperson, Annabelle Dela Fuente Loja, said soybean has been a reliable crop that has been proven to be well-adapted to the soil in their area.
“Soybean thrives well especially here in our Barangay, in Layug, Tago; that is why we have been planting this crop for a long time now,” Loja was quoted by DA-13 as saying.
New farming practices
Loja’s group availed of farm machinery from DA-13 in November last year, to include a water pump, a multi-grain thresher and a sorting machine.
With the farm machinery, Loja said the members of their group experienced changes in soybean farming practices and realized that their “old ways” of farming were time-consuming and labor-intensive.
“Back then, threshing 40 sacks would take us a month, but with the multi-grain master thresher it only takes a few hours,” Loja said.
She added that with the sorting machine provided by DA-13, separating the beans from dirt and other materials become faster by completing 100 sacks per day compared to five sacks they can complete with the old ways of sorting.
Joel Ochavillo, a member of MAGFA also testified that their labor costs and time spent in farming operations have been lessened with the support of the government-provided farm equipment.
Ochavillo said he used to spend PHP25,000 to PHP30,000 for labor in one season but with the help of the machinery, he is able to save by PHP5,000.
Ochavillo also shared the difficulties they experienced in finding the right market for their produce as traders usually buy their soybean harvest at a low price of PHP20 per kilo.
“Through the support of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division of DA-13, we were able to link up with buyers from Davao City that offer us PPH30 per kilo,” Ochavillo said.
Loja said farm mechanization is a big boost to soybean farmers in Surigao del Sur as she sees the expansion of the area for soybean farming this year.
“Many farmers are now encouraged to venture into soybean farming after seeing the improvements we experienced with the help of DA-13 through mechanization and support in marketing,” Loja said.
Caraga Region particularly Surigao del Sur, according to data provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), is the biggest soybean producer in the country.
A total of 1,050 hectares in Surigao del Sur, particularly in the towns of San Miguel and Tago, are devoted to soybean farming that thrives in the area since 1980, the BAR said. (PNA)