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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The "Southern Swing," a strategy adopted by the Department of Agriculture which involves the opening and development of potential agricultural areas in impoverished provinces, starts on Dec. 20 when the DA and the Philippine Rice Research Institute develop at least 200 hectares of rice farms in four towns in Northern and Eastern Samar.

The towns include Catubig, Las Navas and Mapanas in Northern Samar and Jipapad in Eastern Samar which was hit by Typhoon Samuel a month ago.

Under the Supervised Rice Farming Scheme, the landowners will be asked to enter into an agreement with the DA and PhilRice for the development of their area into a Model Rice Farm.

The DA and PhilRice, using their technical staff and local manpower, will develop at least 50 hectares each in the four towns where modern rice farming technology using farm machinery, small irrigation systems and outstanding rice seeds will be introduced.

All expenses will be covered by the two agencies which after harvest will quantify the cost of the equipment services and deduct it from the gross earnings.

The remaining production which will be bought by ChinYe Agricultural Corporation based in Alangalang, Leyte at an agreed price will be divided between the landowners and the DA-PhilRice Management Group with 70% going to the landowner.

The ChinYe Agricultural Corporation is owned by a French businessman, Patrick Renucci, and his Filipino-Chinese wife, Rachel Renucci-Tan.

The couple established a state-of-the-art Rice Processing Center in Alangalang, Leyte costing about P1-B and acquired farm equipment and machinery which they allow the farmers to use.

Earnings by the DA-PhilRice Management Group will be plowed back into the project for the development of more areas in the next planting season.

The "Southern Swing" Initiative of the DA aims to develop at least 300,000 hectares of new rice farms in the Southern Provinces of the country to compensate for the projected damage by typhoons every year on crops in the Northern Luzon Area.

In Samar, the targeted area is 100,000-hectares which at an average production of 6-metric tons per hectare would produce an additional 600,000-Metric Tons of Palay or 390,000-Metric Tons of milled rice.

Other areas identified in the "Southern Swing" Initiative are Western Visayas, Mindoro and Palawan, Central Mindanao, Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The targeted 300,000-hectares of new rice areas are scheduled to be fully developed by 2020.

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