LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The province of Pangasinan has romped off with the coveted National Rice Achievers’ Award title for the third straight year covering two cropping seasons in 2014.
This was relayed today by Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Batalla who said that awarding ceremonies will be held in Metro-Manila on March 25. Batalla is Governor Espino’s point man in the provincial government’s rice program.
“The exact venue of the awarding ceremonies has not been fixed yet. But we have been notified that the province is one of the country’s top three rice producers last year,” Batalla said.
The province will receive a trophy and a cash prize of P4 million during the awarding ceremonies, he added. In all, the province has earned P12 million in cash prize from the yearly search since 2012.
“We will convince Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. to personally receive the trophy and the cash prize since this is already the third time we have been adjudged one of the top rice producers in the country,” he intimated.
He added that the board of judges from the Department of Agriculture has not yet revealed if Pangasinan has overtaken Isabela in over-all performance. It was third behind Isabela and Nueva Ecija in 2013.
In gunning for the award, the provincial government has banked its claim on a rice productivity enhancement program launched in 2012 when the provincial government decided to plow in funds, extend outreach technology services and provide support infrastructure to rice farmers in the province.
As a result of the program, about 150,000 rice farmers in Pangasinan harvested 1.099 metric tons of rice last year which was 34,166 tons higher than total harvests the previous year, data collected by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics had shown.
As part of the rice program, the provincial government extended partly subsidized and interest-free loans in the form of fertilizer and certified seeds to 2,130 farmers in 14 rice producing towns.
It also put on the ground P275 million in support infrastructure projects that included small irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, multi-purpose pavements used for sun drying, and bridges.
And in tandem with the Department of Agriculture and a non-government organization, the province expanded its seed production and distribution project that resulted in 75 percent of the province’s rice farmers shifting to the full use of certified and hybrid palay seeds.
These resulted in higher harvest for each farmer that redounded to an over-all growth in total harvests by about four percent, much higher than the national average of less than two percent.
Good farmgate prices of palay also resulted in higher earnings for each of the individual rice farmers last year. By Dexter A. See