Kalinga feted for rice yield anew

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Kalinga province has been recognized for the third time as among the seven outstanding provinces in rice production nationwide for 2017, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Cordillera Administrative Region has announced.

The recognition came after Kalinga, known as Cordillera’s rice granary, recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon Lawin in 2016.

DA Regional Director Narciso Edillo informed Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac of the award in a letter dated May 10 saying the citation at the Philippine International Convention Center is set to be received in  Pasay City on May 31.

Provincial rice program coordinator Jose Casibang attributed Kalinga’s achievement to the province’s use of hybrid rice, fast funding relief from the national and local governments, and assistance from the National Irrigation Administration, among others.

Casibang said Kalinga produced 173,292 metric tons (MT) of rice in 2017, bigger by 25.77 percent than its 2016 production of 137,784 MT, when typhoon Lawin lashed out on northern Luzon.

Casibang said the recognition was the latest for Kalinga, which was also named among top seven outstanding provinces in agriculture in 2012 and in 2013 when the province produced 174,012 MT and 176,529 MT, respectively.

The province used its cash prizes during the two successive years to provide skills and knowledge training to farmers, road concreting, and to fix the training facility now being used by farmers and organizations for meetings on agriculture-related activities. The youth and women also use the activity area for their livelihood lectures and seminars.

In 2014, the province was excluded from the honor roll because it had won for two succeeding years.

In 2015, it failed to be included on the list as production dropped to 141,094 due to soil erosion that damaged a number of irrigation systems.

The prize for this year was planned to fund the building of a dormitory where farmers from remote areas in the province can stay while having training in Tabuk City, the province’s capital. Such skills training usually last three days or so.

“This building is intended for lectures on academics and theories and a demonstration area for farm machinery and post-harvest facilities,” Casibang told the Herald Express.

Another plan is to acquire a vehicle, a shuttle bus or a coaster, for transporting Kalinga farmers who undergo field training locally or at the Science City in Muñoz in Region 4.

“We realized we still have no vehicle to transport our trainees, not only the farmers but also the technicians, who do the training. We also need a dormitory, as most farmers are from remote areas of the province,” he said.

Casibang said Kalinga intends to stay as a commercial producer of rice.

He said about 98 percent of farmers in Tabuk City and the province’s other rice-producing towns-Rizal, Pinukpuk, and Tanudan now use hybrid rice seeds, which give them much higher output for just a little additional cost.

But Kalinga’s upper Balbalan town still produces native rice and the province intends to keep it that way.

While Kalinga intends to keep its heirloom rice production, particularly in the higher parts of the upland province, because of cultural pride, the province also sees the advantage of using modern rice varieties like hybrid rice.

“Although it is quite a liability in terms of production, the heirloom rice production in upper Kalinga is a pride of the province,” Casibang said.

He noted that in 2014 and 2015, the province even exported 5 to 10 metric tons of native rice varieties.

Some farmers from the upper towns also choose to sell their heirloom rice locally, where they earn as much as when they export.

By Jesse Maguiya

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