SANTA ROSA, Nueva Ecija – As a farmer who had to attend to his crops on a regular basis, Danilo Bolos of Barangay Tagpos here was initially affected by the quarantine restrictions the government imposed to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
But Bolos, a farmer for over 30 years, has been inspired by seeing daily truckloads of rice from his province of Nueva Ecija to feed the quarantined people of the National Capital Region (NCR) and other regions during this pandemic.
“Naramdaman ko ang karangalan bilang isang magsasaka na taga-Nueva Ecija. Hindi ito pagsasaka lang para sa sariling pamilya (I felt honored as a farmer from Nueva Ecija. Farming is not just for own family,” Bolos said Friday.
“Sobrang halaga po natin. Hindi lang mga front-liner natin, doktor, nurse o mga pulis ang kailangan ng ating bansa. So, pinilit naming mga magsasaka na maging masigasig (We are very valuable. Our country does not only need our front-liners, doctors, nurses, or police officers. So the farmers tried themselves to be diligent,” Bolos said, adding some farmers had also felt the heat of mobility restrictions.
They, in fact, also were apprehensive about exposure to the Covid-19 virus.
However, he said their farmers’ group, Sapang Banoy Farmers’ Association, has received requests from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Caritas Manila, as well as the local governments of Manila and Las Piñas, among others, for supply.
Local government units (LGUs) have been rationing food packs that primarily comprised rice to residents during the lockdown.
Bolos’ perseverance paid off as he tapped thousands of farmers who joined the “Masaganang Ani 300” (MA300), a program launched by hybrid rice producer SL Agritech, as he registered 339.81 cavans of palay (unhusked rice) per hectare last cropping season.
An engineer who worked for over two decades in Saudi Arabia, Bolos said he joined the program to prove that “hybridization” along with modern farming technology promises a future to young people.
MA300 aims to direct farmers to look at farming from a different perspective -the entrepreneurial view.
Bolos said he started rice farming when people are “happy” with 60 to 80 cavans per hectare.
“Pag 100 (cavans) ay masayang-masaya na (If 100 cavans, they were too happy),” he added. “Pero patuloy na dumadami ang tao at nababawasan ang lupang agrikultura (But the people keep on increasing and the agricultural lands are reducing).”
Florencio Sudoy of Barangay Mabini, Sto. Domingo, this province is the second top awardee with a 310 cavans per hectare yield, Mariano “Naning” de Jesus of Barangay Manga, Candaba in Pampanga harvested 305 cavans per hectare, while Ramon Palomo of Barangay Caballero, Guimba Nueva Ecija had 300.5 cavans per hectare.
Six other farmers who registered yields of not less than 250 cavans per hectare will be cited by SL Agritech in a virtual awarding ceremony on Tuesday.
Touted as the biggest hybrid rice seeds producer in Asia outside China and India, SL Agritech Corporation has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Go Negosyo for this program.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Go Negosyo founder and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion have lauded the efforts of SL Agritech to propagate the adoption of the hybrid seeds as a way to increase rice production in the country.
SL Agritech has been at the forefront of efforts to educate the farmers on the benefits of hybrid rice, and it has been conducting several interventions to open the eyes of the farming community on how they can best improve their rice yields and scale up their household income.
The company vowed support to the DA’s “Plant, Plant, Plant” program to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. (PNA)