TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Local officials and agriculture industry stakeholders are alarmed over the reported conversion of agricultural lands for residential, commercial and industrial uses which might affect the city’s stature as the rice granary of the Cordillera in the future.
Mayor Darwin C. Estrañero disclosed that this year alone, there had been more than 200 hectares of agricultural lands in the different parts of the city which were converted to another land use and this will be a significant reduction on the area being tilled by the farmers to produce rice and other agricultural crops that sustains the rice self-sufficiency of the Cordillera.
He reported that one of the strategies of the local government to further expand the area of agricultural lands in the city is to convince farmers to till their idle lands to replace the ones that were already converted for other uses to ensure that the area converted for other productive uses will be replaced so as not to have a significant impact on the volume of rice and other agricultural crops produced by local farmers.
Under the city’s approved comprehensive land use plan (CLUP), areas within 100 meters on both sides of national and provincial roads are allowed to be converted for mixed use to ensure the limited conversion of areas devoted for agriculture to contain the impact of massive land conversion to the state of agriculture in the city.
However, Mayor Estrañero stipulated that the city government intends to reduce the land area allowed for conversion to further improve the state of the city’s agriculture as allowing such conversions of agricultural lands will eventually have a negative impact on the city’s identity as the rice granary of the Cordillera.
According to him, the city government is also investing on the put up of communal irrigation facilities in the remote villages to encourage residents in these areas to use their idle lands to produce rice and other suitable agricultural crops that will help in improving food supply of food inside and outside the city.
The city chief executive admitted that there will come a time that the city will be urbanized with the expected influx of commercial and industrial establishments but as early as now, the local government is trying to establish the limits of the areas that could be developed for other purposes while maintaining a huge portion of the city’s land area for rice and agricultural crop production for the realization of food self-sufficiency in the region.
Estrañero underscored the importance of striking a balance among urbanization, agriculture, tourism and the preservation and protection of the environment so that ecological balance is maintained even with the urbanization and the influx of businesses in the city being one of the business-friendly cities in the country.
Tabuk is the third largest city in the country with a land area of about 700 square kilometers of which most is devoted to agriculture, being the major source of livelihood over the past several decades. Tabuk celebrated its 72nd founding anniversary as a municipality last June 23, 2022 and its 15th founding anniversary as a component city on June 24, 2022 pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9404.