Ilocos Norte’s agri sector posts 10% gain

LAOAG CITY, July 19 (PIA) -– The agriculture sector of Ilocos Norte grew by 10 percent in the last two years.

In 2010 and 2011, yearly rice production increased by 10 percent, said provincial agriculturist Norma Lagmay. Average rice production reached 5 metric tons during the same period, compared to 4 metric tons in 2008.

The rising rice yield made Ilocos Norte one of the ‘Bosing ng Palayan’ under the Department of Agricuture’s Rice Achievers’ Awards for 2011.

Lagmay said the provincial agriculture office targets higher rice yield this year through technology demonstration and adoption, acquisition of farm machineries and capacity building for more farmers.

“Our farmers need to adopt diversified farming systems that are applicable to the climatic conditions of Ilocos Norte,” she said.

For her part, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said farmers are assured of continuing grain support with the assistance of the National Food Authority.

“We will buy yellow corn at P13 per kilo (which is) above the market price,” she said.

Marcos said the agri sector also needs to diversity with the growing of high value crops.

“When shall we finally make that wholehearted transition from a single planting of rice, to those precious and profitable boutique vegetables, organic fruit and cut flowers? Our priority will emphatically be high-value crops,” she added.

Citing the popularity of traditional vegetable crops in the market from malunggay (moringa) to saluyot, native pepper and young eggplants, Marcos said farmers need to take advantage of a renewed interest on vegetable plants as a result of a growing health-conscious population.

“The market is opening up more opportunities for new farming from the lowly malunggay which is now being sold as anti-oxidant, to saluyot, sili and talong which hotels and restaurants are craving for,” she said.

Marcos encouraged farmers who do not own farmlands to tie up with the provincial government.

“Those who do not have sufficient lands could make use of idle provincial lots. We can tap the assistance of the Departments of Agriculture and Environment and Natural Resources. We will buy your organic products and make use of the Capitol grounds as bagsakan area (market ground),” she said.

The provincial government also encouraged farmers to switch to food processing and value adding products which has become a trend in agriculture.

“Our agricultural frontier will undoubtedly be food processing and value adding as they will open endless opportunity for students and workers, industrial and food technologies, crafts and arts production, microenterprise, bookkeeping and packaging design,” Marcos said.

She said farmers need to adopt to the changing times, loan out cash and invest in agribusiness. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)

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