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PIA Press Release

Aklan still a "rice-exporting" province, asserts governor

by Venus G. Villanueva

Kalibo, Aklan (1 February) -- Aklan is still a "rice-exporting" province, according to Governor Carlito Marquez in his recently-delivered State of the Province Address (SOPA) here.

Governor Marquez said Aklan's rice sufficiency level now stands at 117.8%.

"While consuming 63,313.61 metric tons of our total production of 95,841 metric tons for 2009, we remain a "rice-exporting" province, complementing the rice needs of our other provinces with our excess rice," Marquez told the crowd that jampacked the SP Session Hall here recently to listen to his SOPA.

Marquez said agricultural modernization and increased production remain the major focus of his administration, with 54% of Aklan's total land area of 181,816 hectares devoted to agriculture.

With the focus on agriculture, the province continues to implement national programs on rice, (hybrid, inbred, commercial), high-value commercial crops (corn, mango, other fruits and vegetab les), Integrated Pest Management or Kasalikasan, Palayamanan/Kabuhayan, natural farming system, abaca production, modified rapid composting and fisheries.

"Our hearts and the hearts of our long-suffering farmers are filled with the hope that with the continued implementation of hybrid rice development and other rice programs, we will be able not only to survive pests and climate change but attain new heights in the production of the staple," Marquez said.

William Castillo, OIC of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) here revealed that one Aklanon farmer had already experienced a palay yield of 180 cavans from a hectare of rice land planted to hybrid rice.

Marquez also cited the help of the Department of Agriculture for providing Aklan farm inputs and equipment worth P29.7 million, and the P10 million grant for farm-to-market roads which was used for concreting instead of just gravelling which do not last.

Both the DA and the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council extended to the farmers P503,000 as assistance for livelihood programs, according to the governor.

The governor also reported that the trend in Aklan's rice production showed a 14.62% jump from 129,318 metric tons in 2008 when Typhoon Frank inundated the rice fields to 148,222 metric tons in 2009.

In the national scenario, the government had a 3.63 metric tons 2009 forecast of palay yield per hectare compared with 3.07 metric tons in 2000.

Rice farms have improved yields because of rural infrastructure, technology, and farm support which bring more income to farmers.

The buying price of palay has increased too, from P8.50 per kilo in 2000 to P17.00 per kilo in 2009, which will also encourage farmers to be more productive. (PIA) [top]

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