By Adrian H. Halili, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said that it has disbursed P909.68 million worth of farm intervention to farmers and fisherfolks in Iloilo.

The DA said in a statement that P885.52 million worth of infrastructure improvements had been approved as part of the Philippine Rural Development Project.

It said that cash assistance amounting to P2.35 million was handed out to farmers, while P8.5 million was given to cooperatives to improve their market linkages.

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) also turned over P11.25 million worth of farming equipment. This included walk-behind transplanters, riding-type transplanters, rice precision seeders, rice combine harvesters, and single-pass rice mills.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also distributed gill nets, 10 horsepower marine engines, and tilapia fingerlings amounting to P2.07 million.

The P19.7-billion multipurpose Jalaur River project is also set to be fully operational by 2025, according to Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr.

“This is what we need to maximize the potential of Western Visayas in rice production. I am not dismissing the potential of this region to contribute more for rice sufficiency of our country,” Mr. Tiu Laurel said.

The province of Iloilo was reported to be the fifth largest rice producer in 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. The province had a total palay, or unmilled, rice output of 1.07 million metric tons (MT).

The Jalaur project is 74% complete as of January, will have a coverage area of 31,840 hectares, and will benefit 25,000 farmers and 4,500 indigenous peoples.

The project will increase rice production by 71% to 338,000 MT.