DA allots P278M for irrigation, agri projects in Apayao

THE Department of Agriculture has allotted P278 million (M) this year to bankroll several irrigation and agricultural projects in Apayao that will further solidify its distinction as a surplus rice producer, and a potential exporter of fancy, aromatic rice in succeeding years.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the investments also aims to transform Apayao into a major producer of corn, coffee, vegetables, fruits and other high value crops. He made the commitment during his recent two-day (June 11-12, 2012) visit, where he dialogued with thousands of farmers and local government officials, and visited several agricultural and irrigation projects.

Of the total P278-M investment, P236.87 M is allotted to undertake 45 irrigation projects in Apayao’s seven municipalities by the DA’s National Irrigation Administration (NIA). When completed, the 45 systems will irrigate an additional 2,290 hectares (has), said NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel.

Of the 45 projects, two are national irrigation systems, with an initial budget of P100 M this year: P80 M for the newly-launched Marimay Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (MSRIP); and P20 M for the rehabilitation and expansion of the West Apayao Abulug Irrigation System (WAAIS).

The MSRIP is a four-year project with a total budget of P499M, while the WAAIS is a five-year project with a total budget of P399 M, funded by the World Bank under the Participatory Irrigation Development Program, said Nangel.

When completed in 2015, the MSRIP will irrigate an additional 1,200 hectares in Flora, Apayao, and benefit 600 farm-families; while the WAAIS, when completed in 2016, will serve 1,742 hectares in two towns (Pudtol and Luna) in Apayao and 2815 hectares in two towns (Abulug and Pamplona) in Cagayan, benefiting a total 3,363 farm-families, said NIA Cordillera regional manager John Socalo.

Secretary Alcala said with the completion of the MSRIP and WAAIS, Apayao will become a major rice surplus producer in the Cordilleras, including a supplier of fancy, aromatic and upland rice varieties for both the domestic and export markets.

Last year, Apayao produced a total of 98,489 metric tons of palay (paddy rice), according to the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. The volume is equivalent to 64,017 MT of rice at 65 percent milling recovery.

With an estimated population of about 120,000 in 2011, and a provincial per capita consumption of 125 kilograms (kgs), Apayao’s total rice requirement would have amounted to only 15,000 MT or up to 18,000 MT, including 20 percent for seeds, postharvest losses and wastage, said NIA-CAR regional manager John Socalo. This leaves a surplus of more 45,000 MT, which is traded and sold in adjoining rice-deficit provinces in the Cordilleras and other Luzon provinces, Socalo said.

During a Stakeholders’ Forum and Irrigators’ Associations’ Congress, in Luna, Apayao, on June 11, 2012, Secretary Alcala also handed over certificates of awards and entitlement for various  agricultural and livelihood projects worth P36 M to farmers’ and fisherfolk’s groups, irrigators’ associations, rural women and youth, and their respective local government units. The forum was attended by more than a thousand participants, led by Governor Elias Bulut, Jr., Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, and Mayor Betty C. Verzola of Luna, Apayao.

In appreciation for their attendance and active participation during the forum, the DA chief raffled off to lucky attendees P5.4-million worth of various farm machinery, equipment, inputs, and farm animals. These included a hand tractor with trailer, 30 rice threshers, 10 cutter/harvesters, 10 power and knapsack sprayers, 10 laminated storage sacks, 100 fruit tree seedlings, three head of carabao with implements, and dozens of native pigs, upgraded Anglo-Nubian bucks, and rabbits

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