February 22, 2024

The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera is looking into ramping up support for provinces in the region which have the biggest potential to increase the yield in rice production to make the region rice self-sufficient.

Edwin Joseph Franco, DA focal person on rice, said aside from Kalinga which is the region’s rice granary, the agency has identified Apayao and Abra to be potential rice granaries owing to its vast areas that can be made suitable for rice planting.

Abra has about 26 percent that can used for rice production, around 23 percent for Apayao, and 22 percent for Kalinga.

But Franco said in the case of Abra, a big portion of the area that can be planted with rice are rain-fed area or those that still do not have irrigation supply that make it unsuitable for rice production at the moment.

While these areas previously had communal irrigation systems, these had been severely damaged during the past typhoons and earthquake that struck the province, reason why temporarily these do not have sufficient irrigation.

Farmers in the area he said have been planting corn and vegetables as recommended while the budget for the repair of the damaged irrigation systems is being awaited.

“But there is a potential for Abra, if and only if we can increased its irrigated areas, through small water impounding projects, deepwells, and solar irrigation. Ma-recover lang natin ‘yung mga nasira at kung ‘yung least 50 percent of the rain-fed areaay malagyan ng tamang suporta sa patubig, kahit paano ang Abra ay papantay sa mataas na rice production,”Franco said, adding the rain-fed areas cannot produce rice even during wet season.

In the case of Kalinga, the province would soon have an additional 1,100 hectares for rice production with the help of a newly-established irrigation system in Region 2 that would somehow pass through the province.

Based on statistics, Franco and DA-Cordillera OIC Executive Director Jennilyn Dawayan said the Cordillera used to be “very self-sufficient”,except for Benguet, in terms of rice supply, particularly in 2018.

But its production has been heavily affected by climate change and infestation that should be addressed through concrete action.

Franco said for validation are reports from Kalinga and Abra that farmers are contending with army worm infestation, which is causing low yield.

Dawayan said among the challenges they have to address is the proper use of technology to help farmers not only increase the area they would plant on but also increase their production. – Hanna C. Lacsamana