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Nueva Vizcaya

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 Harvest Time

It has been long time ago but I remember when the boys of the summer can't play basketball or tennis. The pavements were used for sun-drying wet (water-drenched) palay by the farmers. It was not fun but as the song went.."planting rice is never fun." I was only dreaming of playing for the Boston Celtics on parquet floor anyway.


Just to post a related news form Philippines News Agency - Due to the lack of post-harvest facilities, the rice harvest season has become a seasonal headache --- and literally, a source of itchy allergies --- to both motorists and commuters here. Jeepney drivers plying the Tarlac City-Victoria route, including those going to Nueva Ecija and other neighboring towns, have complained that farmers have been "invading" roads here with their harvested palays. Russell Domingo, 26, a jeepney driver from this town, complained that farmers who dry their palays along roads here do not only occupy an entire single lane, but also put woods with sharp nails jutting out, purposely to prevent vehicles from running over their harvests. Because of this, he said that a lot of motorists, especially those who are not from the province and are completely unaware of the road obstacles, often have their tires flat. At times, palay drying along roads here cause minor road accidents. Moreover, Domingo said that most commuters complain of allergies due to the palays, which are being dried on the entire stretch of the 15-kilometer Tarlac City-Victoria road. Jeepney drivers here like Domingo have been demanding for a ban on palay drying along busy streets here, or even at least along municipal roads, due to the hazards that this pose to motorists and commuters. Their cries have, however, been falling on deaf ears. Farmers, on the other hand, have reasoned out that the lack of post-harvest facilities, like solar dryers, leave them no choice except to use, not only the roads, but also basketball courts and concrete pavements of their respective barangay halls. Ronald Bucao, a 31-year-old farmer in Barangay Baculong here who just harvested over 100 cavans of palay from his ricefield, explained that the only way to prevent farmers from drying their harvests along roads is for government to provide them with sufficient agricultural facilities. According to him, if they don't dry their rice harvest, this will fetch them with meager income because traders who buy from them want well dried palays so that these would produce well-milled rice. Without the post-harvest facilities, Bucao said that a ban on palay drying along roads here will not be effectively implemented. Palay drying along roads is being practiced by farmers in the entire province.Not spared from this hazardous problem is the MacArthur Highway, where the country's staple is often seen being dried along the national road's shoulders. Compared to other provinces in Central Luzon, is only Tarlac that has a very loose policy on palay drying along roads. Nueva Ecija is the province known in the region that strictly bans this practice.