AMID the fear for possible global food shortage, the top official of Bago City in Negros Occidental is pushing for further strengthening the agriculture sector particularly increasing the locality’s rice production output.

Mayor Nicholas Yulo said Tueaday, August 9, 2022, the City government is consistently aiming for an increment in its rice production output every year, higher than the “standard” of at least four metric tons (MT) per hectare yield.

From 2018 to 2020, the City surpassed its target of 4.4 MT per hectare after hitting a production output of 4.43 MT to 4.47 MT per hectare during the period.

The City is looking to bounce back this year after a slight decrease in average yield in 2021 due to several calamities that hit Negros Occidental.

Yulo said they recognized the need to continue boosting local production, as he cited Thailand’s average rice production output of about eight metric tons per hectare.

Recognized by the Department of Agriculture as one of the country’s top rice producers, Bago City is considered as the rice granary of Negros Occidental as it produces at least one third of the total rice production output of the province.

“We produce close to 30 percent of the total rice production output of the province,” he said, stressing that “we need to produce more, we need to further strengthen our agriculture industry so as to ensure food security.”

The city’s top official also said there’s a need to make local rice farmers competitive through one, helping them generate income that is enough for them to sustain their production.

Thus, the City government, he said, has put in place various programs on provision of support services like technology, certified seeds and training, among others.

Records of the City Agriculture Office showed over 5,000 small farmers in the city have received certified rice seeds worth P17 million from the national and local governments from January to June this year.

As part of its farm mechanization program, the City government has also distributed about P26 million worth of farm machinery and equipment, such as combine harvesters, transplanter machines, and tractors, in the past four years.

At least 20 associations composed of small or marginal rice farmers have benefited from the program.

“We need to mechanize for us to be able to increase our production,” the mayor said, adding that agriculture development remains a priority of the local government so they are allocating a big fund for it every year.