LAGAWE, Ifugao – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol assured the provincial government that he will work out the release of P1 million from the agriculture department to serve as seed money for the operation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces Rehabilitation Council which will be created to oversee the possible rehabilitation of rice terraces and the enhanced production of heirloom rice.
Gov. Pedro Mayam-o said the Ifugao Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Development Council will be composed of multi-sectoral representatives to facilitate increase in the production of heirloom rice and make the native rice competitive in the global market.
“The council will initially conduct an inventory of abandoned and damaged rice terraces that could still be rehabilitated to maximize the potential of the province as a major producer of heirloom rice, and guarantee the upgrading of rice terraces in the different municipalities,” Mayam-o stressed.
The governor claimed the visit of Secretary Pinol to the province was fruitful because one of the priority programs of the Duterte administration is the enhancement of heirloom rice production, a welcome development for traditional rice farmers wanting to avail of government assistance to sustain the production of the native variety of rice known as ‘tinawon.’
According to him, the council will coordinate with owners of the abandoned and damaged rice terraces to ensure their commitment for the continuous use of their rice fields for heirloom rice production after the appropriate interventions have been introduced to increase and sustain the volume of heirloom rice production annually in the different municipalities.
Mayam-o expressed gratitude to Secretary Pinol and officials of the agriculture department for making heirloom rice production as one of their flagship programs as more traditional rice farmers will be enticed to till their rice terraces and resume the production of heirloom.
Ifugao produces at least 7 tons of heirloom rice annually and bulk this is sold in the United States through a conduit non-government organization.
Mayam-o claimed with the commitment of agriculture officials to provide supplementary sources of livelihood to traditional rice farmers that will serve as source of income while awaiting the harvest of heirloom price, hundreds of these farmers owning damaged and abandoned rice terraces will surely go back to traditional rice farming and contribute to the expected increase in supply of the native rice that commands a high price abroad.
He said the executive order for the operation of the Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Development Council will be released the soonest to start the inventory of the abandoned and damaged rice terraces.