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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DA allots P500 M for Cordillera agri projects

The Department of Agriculture is allotting more than P500 million (M) to undertake various agricultural, irrigation and infrastructure projects in the six provinces of the Cordillera region, to further prop up its distinction as a major source of vegetables and other high value crops.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala committed the amount during his recent three-day (November 25-27) visit of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Baguio City, where he monitored various projects, and dialogued with farmers and local officials.

The bulk of the fund, amounting to P268M mainly from the DA’s National Irrigation Administration (NIA), is allotted for the repair and rehabilitation of several irrigation systems in Ifugao, Mt. Province and Benguet that were damaged by recent typhoons, including some portions of the Ifugao rice terraces.

Of the total irrigation fund, NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said P100M is earmarked for the Butigue irrigation system (IS) in Atok, Benguet, P40M for the Hapid IS in Lamut, Ifugao, P10 M to repair eroded and damaged portions, and reinforce the irrigation systems of the rice terraces at Batad town, and the rest of the amount will be used to repair communal irrigation systems and construct irrigation canals and road opening in other towns and province.

To restore the Ifugao rice terraces, he also committed an additional P20M from the DA-Cordillera region and national rice program to repair and upgrade other rice terraces in Banaue, Mayoyao, Hapao and Kiangan.

Secretary Alcala also committed to put up one village-type rice processing center in all six Cordillera provinces, worth P20M each, for a total of P120M. He also provided each province two four-wheel tractors, worth P48M, under a counterparting arrangement.

For his part, DA national rice program coordinator Dante Delima said the rice processing center in Ifugao will also feature a rice museum featuring the agricultural practices, farm implements, culture, and tradition of the mountain tribe responsible for carving the world famous Ifugao rice terraces. In particular, it will showcase upland rice varieties like tinawon, unoy, and ulikan.

DA Cordillera regional director Marilyn Sta. Catalina said the DA will also provide other production support totaling P47.8M, comprising of: six production centers of compost and bio-control agents, one for each province; 40 hand tractors with trailers; 120 head of carabaos with implements; establishment of fishponds and rice-fish culture paddies, six coffee seedling nurseries, and six greenhouses.

Director Delima said the DA will also provide P2M for the upgrading of a municipal agri trading center in Lamut, Ifugao.

In appreciation of the hundreds of farmers and local officials who attended and actively participated at the respective forums and town hall meetings during this three-day visit, Secretary Alcala raffled off as prizes, worth P2.6M, several farm equipment (hand tractors with trailer, hermetic cocoon grain storage, collapsible dryers, knapsack sprayers, and plotters), draft carabaos with implements, several dozens of farm animals (native pigs and chicken, rabbits, and upgraded goats); and registered and native rice seeds.

At Atok, in Benguet, he led the inauguration of a P3M municipal packing house and two agricultural tramlines at barangays Bocao and Bonglo to support the town’s production of cabbage, potato, lettuce, carrot, radish, garden peas, and cutflowers.

He also visited an Arabica coffee production center jointly operated by the Benguet State University and a private firm (Rocky Mountain Café) at barangay Longlong, La Trinidad, Benguet. DA Information Service

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