NEGROS Occidental will get about P768-million budget for agriculture in 2021, the top official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

DA Secretary William Dar, on the sidelines of the launching and turnover of over P450 million worth of programs and projects at the Pana-ad Park in Bacolod City on Tuesday, December 8, said the national budget for next year is almost approved.

Dar said there is an ongoing bicameral session this week, but Negros Occidental will most likely get such amount based on the proposed budget of the National Government to the Congress.

"This [budget] is allocated for various interventions, programs and projects of the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the local governments," he said, urging the farmers and fisherfolk in the province to continue to strive and work hard so the National Government will also continue to help those in the agriculture and fishery sectors.

For his part, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino, who was also present at the activity, said the budget is mainly intended for farm mechanization, as well as procurement and distribution of farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers, and scholarship for the farmers.

Masculino said that for machineries alone, the DA has earmarked about P150 million. For its scholarship program, the agency is also spending an amount for farmers to go to farm schools for 14 weeks.

"This is a big thing for the province especially in terms of the development of its agriculture industry," he added.

In terms rice production, the DA has recognized Negros Occidental for its huge contribution to the country's overall output.

Dar said the province has reached an average yield of almost five metric tons (MT) per hectare last year from about 4.5 MT per hectare in 2018.

In terms of production, Negros Occidental is the number one province in Western Visayas when it comes to production with 4.11 MT per hectare, data from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) showed.

"This is a big leap," the DA chief said, adding that the agency will continue to recognize the province as well as other rice achievers in the country.

During the activity, Dar, along with DA-Western Visayas Regional Director Remelyn Recoter, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and other officials, awarded Bago City as the top rice-producing city in Western Visayas.

The city, receiving P1 million in prize, posted an average yield of 4.47 MT per hectare last year.

Its city agriculturist, Carlito Indencia, was also awarded as Outstanding Agricultural Extension Worker in the region.

The same recognition was given to Mirasol Coste, who is also from Bago City Agriculture Office.

Lalaine Ganate, also from the city, received the outstanding local farmer technician in the region award.

They each received P25,000 in prize.