South Cotabato all looked forward to the visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr, (concurrent DA secretary) on June 14, 2023, Wednesday as he officially presided over the launching of the South Cotabato Consolidated Rice Production and Mechanization Program. The Integrated Rice Processing Center is located in Brgy. Liwanay, Banga, South Cotabato and features a rice mill, machinery shed, silo, mechanical dryer, a motor pool and truck scale.
DILG Rehiyon Dose, as a show of support to the provincial local government, made sure that ARD Lailyn A. Ortiz, CESO III and DILG-South Cotabato Provincial Director Rochelle Mahinay-Sero, CESE, both representing RD Josephine Cabrido - Leysa CESO III, were part of the long list of the other regional executives, farmer’s groups and leaders and local chief executives which provided a warm rousing welcome to the President's arrival.
Governor Tamayo has also received support from those who were present at the venue. They include Vice Governor Arthur “Dodo” Y. Pingoy, MD and the members of the Provincial Board, local chief executives and the members of their Sanggunian and various government agencies.
Governor Tamayo, in his welcome message and a briefer about the project, bared that the project is worth P655.83 million and it is housed in a 1.4 hectare lot, about 300 meters away from the national Highway, in the said barangay. He added that the facility’s rice mill will produce quality milled rice, sourced out from rice farms in Koronadal City and the municipalities of Surallah, Tantangan, Norala, Sto.Niño and Banga in South Cotabato.
He also explained to the farmers and guests who were present at the venue that the consolidation program is his chosen approach to do away with the "middlemen" who prey on rice farmers. He explained that the consolidated rice production will eventually lower the price of rice for the consumer and it ‘promises hope and future for the farmers of South Cotabato’ through the rice production facility.
'Imagine ang walis tingting, madaling mabali kapag nag-iisa.," Gov. Tamayo elaborated that with consolidated farming, rice growers become and can operate like a corporation. He also bared that he has organized numerous farmer's blocks, which is a farmer's group with 50 hectares of rice land combined.
'As we increase the volume of production, we increase the farmer's income as the PLGU-South Cotabato's Rice Processing Center buys in higher price, with provisions of logistic services,’ he added.
Farmer's cooperatives and associations have already been selected for the project, with a total of 1,400 hectares as initial area.
Meanwhile, the President, who was expected to arrive at around 9:00AM arrived a few minutes before 12:00 noon on Wednesday and he apologized for the said delay. He clarified that there were some technical issues which forced the pilots to make a return flight to Villamor Airbase, thereby delaying the start of the program.
In his speech, President Marcos expressed his deep appreciation about the dynamics of consolidated rice production. "Ang ganitong programa ay ating iniisip para sa mga magsasaka.. Ang consolidation ng mga magsasaka, kasabay ng mechanization...ay tama. Sa mababang labor cost, panalo ang mga magsasaka!” he added.
President Marcos also expressed appreciation for the endeavors of Governor Tamayo for embarking on consolidated rice production, mechanization program and processing center. He expressed surprise that the province has done great strides for the said program. He added "At nakapag-pilot test na pala kayo?” directing his question to Governor Tamayo.
The President explained that what South Cotabato is doing in a “small version” what he wants to do for the nation: “Ito ang ating gagawin sa Pilipinas!”He also highlighted the importance of farm consolidation where farmers can double their production.
The President left after his speech and proceeded to the South Cotabato Gym and Cultural Center for the distribution of various government assistance.
Among the secretaries and high ranking cabinet members who joined the President during the visit to South Cotabato include DSWD Sec. Rex Gatchalian, DOH Sec. Teodoro Herbosa, DOLE Sec. Bienvenido E. Laguesma, DTI Sec. Alfredo E. Pascual, PCO Sec. Cheloy Velicaria- Garafil, Special Assistant to the President Anton F. Lagdameo, Jr., Sec. Leo Tereso Magno, the Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao, and newly- appointed TESDA Director- General Suharto T. Mangudadatu , Angat Party list Representative Reynaldo Tamayo, Sr., 1st District Congressman Isidro Lumayag, 2nd District Congressman Peter B. Miguel, with the military and PNP top brass in the region.
For her part, RD Josephine Cabrido-Leysa, CESO III, looks forward to the full-operation of the facility. ‘Being a farmer myself, I think we are on the right track as a rice-producing province, to have an improved rice production system and facility,’ the Director explained. “As a local government –led initiative, I think South Cotabato is the only PLGU with such a scheme and we hope this is going to become one of the replicable practices for other LGUs,” Director Leysa added.