DA assures Mahayag farmers no post-harvest losses
by Jun C. Corgue
Zamboanga City (21 October) -- For several decades now, post harvest losses has been a major problem of farmers in Salug Valley-Mahayag, one of the rice producing areas in Zamboanga del Sur province. Farmers who look forward to a bountiful harvest after 4 months of exhausting toil, usually end up spent with low post harvest recovery.
Sacks of Losses
Traditionally, farmers dry their harvest along street side walks and cemented roads, exposing palay seeds to the hungry flocks of chicken and ducks and even to reckless drivers who plow palay with vehicle tires. Farmers said sacks of palay seeds are lost during drying, more so that farmers are left at the mercy of intermittent weather condition. Palay float along roadsides when farmers fail to beat the speed of rain outpour and keep it in huts or granaries.
Redemptive Flat Bed Dryers
Mahayag saw a ray of hope when the Department of Agriculture turned over a flat bed dryer to Upper Salug Daku Integrated Development Multi-Purpose Cooperative (USDIDMOPUCO) in Lower Mahayag (Lourmah) Salug Valley farmers through President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her first and recent visit here on October 9.
Felipe Baterna, USDIDMOPUCO General Manager said apart from the now operational flat bed dryer installed near the cooperative office, another one is due for delivery as two flat bed dryers were promised to be given to them.
"Ang nasangpit nga unit dako kaayo nga natabang kanamo ilabi na gayud panahon sa ting-ulan, Kini ang nakamala sa 2,000 nga kilo sa mga palay sa among miyembro panahon pagduaw sa Presidente nga nakahalin namo sa dul-an sa P35,000. (The unit has been a big help to us especially last wet season. We were able to dry 2,000 kilos of our members' palay since the visit of the President which earned us nearly P35,000," Felipe Baterna, Manager of Upper Salug Daku Integrated Development Multi-Purpose Cooperative (USDIDMOPUCO) said proudly.
Juanito Bunsocan, Federated Chairman of Farmers in Mahayag said "the use of mechanical dryers ensure quality rice grains. It lessen farmers' heavy dependence on weather conditions during harvest seasons and give farmers more time for post harvest field work.
The flat bed dryer does not only give farmers the ideal 14% moisture content of palay to yield quality milled rice but it also dries corn, copra and cassava chips (binagkol) to standard quality to meet buyers’ satisfaction.
"Ang pagpahiluna sa dryer tukma gayud. Kung wala kini, kaming mga miyembro sa kooperatiba dili kamakabaligya sa among abot, labi an ang palay tungod kay sige ug ulan dinhi. Dugang pa, makadaginot kami ug salapi tungod kay ang bayad pagbulad 0.80 sentabos ra matag-kilo sa matag-miyembro. The installation of the dryer was timely. Without it, cooperative members could have not sold our palay because it’s always raining here. Further, it generate savings for us members, because the drying fee is cheap at 0.80 cents per kilo," Bunsocan, explained.
Flagship project of DA
A total of 84 units of mechanical flatbed dryers were distributed to Irrigators and Farmer’s Association and Cooperatives in Zamboanga del Sur to date. 75 units were already installed and 9 are soon to be installed with a total cost of P56,496,972.00,". said Warren Tenorio, Regional Agricultural Engineer Division (RAED) staff.
The USDIDMOPUCO is one of the cooperatives in region 9 chosen as the primary beneficiaries of the dryers as it is the most organized clusters of farmers that applied and complied with the requirements.
"Traders here, buy palay at a low price compared to that of NFA. Thus, we are greatful to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the various programs and projects that she gave to USDIDMOPUCO such as subsidy of sale in fertilizer, corn sealer and the flat bed dryers which benefit us farmer-beneficiaries," Baterna added.
Baterna and Bunsucan, both received checks from the President for the palay they’ve harvested and sold to NFA during her visit in Mahayag last October, this year.
The provision of the mechanical dryers to farm clusters is one of the flagship projects of the DA. (PIA9-Pagadian City) [top]