Italy’s post-Yolanda project to benefit Iloilo’s marginalized farmers

ILOILO CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) — About 1,500 marginalized farmers in the province of Iloilo will no longer have to rent hand tractors and threshers in planting and harvesting in their rice fields.

Renting will soon be eliminated once the 130 hand tractors and 65 rice threshers from Italian Development Cooperation are procured and turned over to 130 agricultural cooperatives.

“We are truly grateful to Italy for helping us recover from Yolanda. My fellow farmers are happy after hearing this project,” said Anoel T. Yu, president of Estancia Federation of Farmers’ Association.

Italy’s post-Yolanda project known as “Restoring Income and Food Security for the Most Vulnerable Rural Communities” is currently implemented by ActionAid, Balay Mindanaw Foundation and Iloilo Provincial Agriculture’s Office.

Yu, also the president of San Roque Farmers’ Association, revealed that their association has no machinery to depend on if they wanted to prepare their rice fields for planting or harvesting.

In most cases, he said that they will usually rent a hand tractor for PHP3,000-5,000 per hectare and if that it is not available, they have no choice but to look from other villages.

“Due to unavailability of these machines sometimes, we cannot plant or harvest on time. But it will all be in the past soon,” Yu said, explaining that delayed harvest tantamount to 20-30 percent loss of their projected yield.

The hand tractors and rice threshers are expected to increase the farmers’ productivity and income, especially to those who have been stricken by Yolanda in Concepcion, San Dionisio, Batad, Estancia and Carles in 2013 and have not received any aid from other international agencies since then.

“We believe in the diversification of livelihood of farmers. We are also looking at empowering them with skills and knowledge in more climate resilient and sustainable agriculture,” said Joyce Laker, country programme manager of ActionAid International-Philippines.

The trainings courses, which will be administered by Balay Mindanaw Foundation, involves food security, production and storage of products, maintenance and repair of agricultural equipment and prevention and disaster risk reduction. (PNA)