Category: News @ Ifugao.

P30-million to restore Ifugao terraces

By MARVYN N. BENANING

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is putting in P30-million to restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces to its former glory.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala made the commitment during his November 25 meeting with Ifugao officials and other leaders at the Banaue Hotel.

Alcala said the rice terraces are a source of pride for Filipinos, for which reason it must be preserved at any cost.

It is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been declared by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a Globally-Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS.)

Alcala said the P30 million is an initial amount, with P10 million coming from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for the repair of the damaged portions and the enhancement of the irrigation systems for the terraces in the town of Batad.

The remainder will come from the National Rice Program for the reinforcement and upgrade of similar terraces in four other sites.

These include the picturesque Banaue rice terraces that can be seen at the Danara Viewpoint and the terraces in Mayoyao, Hapao and Kiangan.

“We need to solve the problem of the rice terraces. It’s President Begnigno S. Aquino III’s instructions,” Alcala told Ifugao officials led by Governor Eugene Balitang, Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. and several municipal mayors.

He told them the DA is also allotting an additional P25 million for several agricultural projects through counterparting arrangements with the 11 municipalities and the provincial government of Ifugao.

For his part, Director Dante Delima, the national rice program coordinator, said the DA extends its full support to restore the Ifugao rice terraces mainly because it is one of the country’s most important contributions to the FAO’s GIAHS.

The FAO has cited the Ifugao terraces as “the country’s only remaining highland mountain ecosystem, featuring the ingenuity of the Ifugaos, and a remarkable agricultural farming system which has retained the viability as well as the efficacy of the 2,000-year-old organic paddy farming.”

Delima said the terraces display a strong relationship between culture and nature.

He noted the communal forests that support the rice terraces are unique examples of sustainable agricultural practices.

More than just tourist attractions, the rice terraces also serve as food security and environmental conservation measure for the people, Delima stressed.

Delima said DA will procure from Ifugao and other Cordillera farmers heirloom or upland rice varieties that the DA will maintain, purify and propagate into starter seeds.

These will be used for succeeding planting seasons at the rice terraces and other upland areas in the country.

The starter seeds will be distributed free to farmers on condition that they pay back the DA in kind, at one and a half sacks for every sack of seeds given them.

All the collected seeds will serve as buffer stock for distribution to other farmers.

Through this program, native heirloom rice varieties like tinawon1, unoy and ulikan are revived and sustained, Delima said.

Producing heirloom rice is profitable since they are more expensive than lowland rice and the yield is low at less than three tons per hectare.

Delima revealed the DA plans to establish an upland rice processing center in Ifugao that will also feature a museum on traditional rice farming.

NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said his agency has allotted P40 million to expand the Hapid irrigation system at Barangay Hapid in Lamut, Ifugao.

The amount will be used to build a diversion dam that would double the present service area of 1,400 hectares.

Once the project is completed, the NIA will provide a seed fund of P1 million for the Hapid irrigators’ association (IA) for the maintenance of the system.

“The province of Ifugao offers vast agricultural potential. It plays a key role in our thrust for rice self-sufficiency. This will only be possible through the good irrigation systems like the one in Hapid,” Nangel told officials and farmers during a forum in Lamut town.

NIA has set aside in 2012 a total of P105.7 million to maintain and repair several irrigation projects in Ifugao, he added. Article link.

Category: News @ Ifugao