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PIA Press Release

Davao City eyes malarial area for agri-development

by RG Alama

Davao City (14 September) -- Barangay Gumitan which recently hogged the news as the epicenter of a malarial outbreak is being eyed by the local government of Davao City as a major rice-production area.

According to City Agriculturist Leo Avila, the city has organized a team to conduct a validation study in the area. Part of the study would be an aerial survey of the barangay to document Gumitan's topography.

Recently the barangay became known when a malarial outbreak was declared in the area. After a medical check-up conducted by the City Health Office revealed that about 180 residents were found to be positive of the mosquito-borne disease.

Avila said that according to the National Irrigation Administration Barangay Gumitan located in the hinterlands of the city's 2nd district has about 1,000 hectares of potential riceland. Presently the indigenous population in the area has been growing native rice or the so-called fancy rice for their own consumption.

He said the city is planning to produce native rice and is looking for rice lands which it could develop. The city has about 11,000 hectares of Riceland. 4,000 hectares are irrigated while 6,000 hectares are rain-fed.

Avila said the agri-development thrust of Mayor Sara Duterte is that Davao would be a major rice producer, shifting away from the old paradigm of Davao being a center for rice trading center.

"Dati hindi siya pinapansin dahil ang plan talaga dati was for the Davao to be a rice trading city and not as a rice producer," Avila said.

For that the city needs ideally 18,000 hectares of ricelands to attain self-sufficiency. With the current 10,000 hectares it has. The city needs 8,000 hectares more.

The city agriculturist said that the NIA has identified 11,000 hectares of potential ricelands in District 2 (Gumitan included) and District 3 in the city, more than enough area to satisfy the requirements of rice production.

He said their four-day trip to Gumitan would include a participative rapid appraisal activity with IPs in the area. The team according to Avila will gather more information and validate certain assumptions about the area.

Avila said that if they were to justify their findings, it will take 2-3 years for funds to set in which could help develop the area particularly in building irrigation facilities and a road network.

The City Agriculturist also said that he shared the Gumitan findings to Department of Secretary Proceso Alcala. "The Secretary said to me that if I could validate my assumptions. He would come personally to Gumitan."

Secretary Alcala has been keen on developing the production of native or fancy rice as a way to attain rice-sufficiency in the country. (PIA XI) [top]

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