In Northern Samar

CATARMAN, Northern Samar-No less than Secretary Manny Piñol, representing the Department of Agriculture(DA), in the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the Rice Seed Production Project with the local government of San Roque, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and other stakeholders on February 22 at San Roque, this province.
Sec. Piñol emphasized that the island of Samar has great potential with its large rivers and fertile lands. Unfortunately, he added, the three provinces in this island are all in the ten poorest provinces of the country.
He puts part of the blame on the past administrations for neglecting the island. But this time around, he says that the Duterte administration will change this fact.
“We should modernize agriculture in Samar. And our intention in San Roque is to transform this town into the seed production area of the whole Region 8. Dito natin sa San Roque uumpisahan ang pagbangon ng buong isla ng Samar. Because we would like Samar to be included, not in the list of the poorest provinces of this country, but in the list of progressive provinces in the country three years from now,” Sec. Piñol declared.
Under the Rice Seed Production Project, the investors’ group, represented by Samar Island Seed Producers, will be leasing 200 hectares of land from land-owners at P15,000/hectare every year for five years to be used as demonstration area for seed production. They will be teaching the method to other farmers in order for them to replicate the process.
“Led by seed grower Nathanael Fabila, the experienced seed growers and farmers will serve as the on-site instructors for the local farmers. We will provide equipment, financing and technology,” Sec. Piñol said.
The Agricultural Credit Policy Council of the DA will initially allocate P40 million to fund the seed production project and start an orientation program for the prospective seed producers of the town.
Sec. Piñol further said that modern farming facilities and machineries will be utilized under this project.
The project is expected to turn San Roque into one of the biggest rice seed production areas of the country and a model farming area which will use solar-powered irrigation, laser-guided field leveller, drones and a computerized geo-tagging and data encoding for farmers participating in the program.
“They will build a German-designed, typhoon-resistant, dome-type warehouse. They will also be constructing seed-processing, drying, and packing facilities so that the rice seed will be ready for distribution after it leaves San Roque,” Sec. Piñol added.
The seed production project is expected to supply the rice seeds requirements of about 200,000 hectares of rice fields in Samar and Leyte.
According to Sec. Piñol, San Roque has been identified as an ideal area for the project, not only because of its abundant water and fertile soil, but especially because of the support of the local officials led by Mayor Don Abalon.
In return, the local chief executive is very grateful for this project, which is expected to inject more than P200-M to the town’s economic activity.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa pagdalaw ng ating butihing kalihim. Umaasa tayo na patuloy ang ating pagtanggap ng biyaya mula sa Kagawaran ng Agrikultura at sa pambansang gobyerno,” Mayor Abalon stated. (JHON ALLEN B. BERBON/PR)