PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur— Johnny Casugudan, a village councilman in the mountainous far-flung village of Guibonon in Esperanza town, was ecstatic upon receiving a portable rice mill personally donated by Agusan del Sur 1st District Rep. Adolph Edward Plaza.
It was the first time that farmers in their village located near the boundaries of the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental have mechanized rice and corn miller that will produce a better quality of the Filipino main food staples.
The farmers there, he said, would have to hire a habal-habal motorcycle (passenger motorbike with wooden wings) for P2,500 to bring their palay and corn to the town center and another P2,500 fare to bring the milled rice and corn back to their place.
The distance of their village from the town center is about 61 kilometers and the only means of transportation are the habal-habal motorbikes.
The costly and long hard travel to bring their produce to the rice millers at the Poblacion has discouraged them and they just rely on using the age-old rice pounding or lubok in the local dialect and grinding with a stone to pulverize the corn seeds.
“We can already eat quality milled rice and corn no longer mixed with grated husks,” Casugudan told Gov. Santiago Cane, Jr. and other provincial officials during the turn-over of at least 50 units of portable rice millers at the Provincial Capitol on Thursday given to 50 pre-identified farmers associations in the province.
The portable rice millers that cost a total of P3 million were personally bought from his pocket by Rep. Plaza in Davao City after learning that many farmers in remote areas have been deprived of available millers that they have to transport their produce to the far town centers.
In the absence of the farmers group in their village, the Provincial Agriculture Office chose the barangay local government unit of Guibonon to be the recipient of the rice mill.
Casugudan said the farmers in their village grow upland rice that only harvests once a year and they grow corn in the last six months of the year. Whenever they don’t get a good harvest, the residents would just eat root crops to survive.
Earlier in the morning, the recipients were briefed and given a hands-on demonstration on the proper operation and maintenance of the rice mill which is either powered by fuel or electricity.
The beneficiaries would choose the kind of rice mill they prefer depending if their village has electricity or not.
Queries on the care, repair, and maintenance of the mills were addressed and were emphasized during the briefing and demonstration.
Gov. Cane has urged recipients to take good care of the mini mill units by frequently doing preventive maintenance considering that these are bought from the personal fund of Rep. Plaza.
He told them that draft policies and systems will be agreed upon between the farmers’ group and the provincial government to ensure the sustainability of the program.
These include the milling schedule every week, a minimal payment of P2 per kilo of palay, income utilization for operation and maintenance including fuel costs and electricity bill, and the duties and responsibilities of the recipients.
Vice Gov. Samuel Tortor suggested to Provincial Agricultural Officer Armando Valiente, to make the agreement written in local vernacular for everybody to clearly understand.
Valiente said the recovery of rice during the milling process is at 65 percent. He added each unit cost P60,000.