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Farmers back DAR’s mega-farm scheme for P20/kilo rice.

MANILA, Philippines — According to DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz, farmers are thrilled about the Department of Agrarian Reform’s intention to construct “mega-farms” to help the government lower rice prices down to PHP20 per kilo.

Cruz stated in a message to the Philippine News Agency on Thursday that they have already begun discussing the Mega Farm Project with some farmer groups and have received encouraging feedback.

Cruz further stated that the project will be included in the report that they will submit to the future Secretary of the Department of the Army.

“I’ve already started talking to certain farmers. Po, our farmers are ecstatic. It’s part of the transition team report, “so that whoever replaces me can start implementing them right away,” Cruz explained.

Task Force Mapalad (TFM), a federation of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and landless peasants, has indicated support for the Mega Farm Project, he claimed.

However, the organization highlighted that the project’s success will be contingent on the future administration’s political will.

The TFM suggested fine-tuning the project and hastening the distribution of lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to farmers who may join the mega-farms in order to achieve the project’s goal of lowering rice prices.

“If the government commits to providing farmers with critical inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, and fuel at lower prices, the consolidation of farms into a large plantation may be acceptable to CARP recipients.” In a news release published on Wednesday, the TFM stated, “Irrigation services must be increased to supply these mega-farms with water.”

Apart from inputs, they noted that the government must ensure that banks grow their loan portfolio in rural areas in accordance with the law and supply farmers with the cash they require for rice cultivation.

Cruz was thrilled to learn that TFM believes the Mega Farm Project has the potential to lower rice prices.

“We welcome constructive criticism and suggestions that will help us ensure the project’s success,” he stated.

He went on to say that the DAR is still doing research and developing policies for the initiative, nicknamed “Programang Benteng Bigas sa Mamamayan” (PBBM), to guarantee that it is feasible and beneficial for the ARBs.

According to DAR’s research, 150,000-hectare farmland can yield an average of 142 sacks of rice per hectare per cropping season, netting the ARBs PHP76,501 per year.

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