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PIA Press Release

Iloilo can regain pre-eminence in rice production - Yap

by T. Villavert

Iloilo City (14 June) -- Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap believes that with sufficient water in the irrigation system and right seed technology, could be one one sure way for Iloilo to regain its pre-eminence in rice production.

Secretary Yap made the statement in Guimaras, the other day during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's visit to Iloilo to inaugurate the New Iloilo Airport and the turn over of Petron Library Hub in Jordan, Guimaras.

During an ambush interview with the Iloilo media, Secretary Yap said that Iloilo was once the number one rice producing province in the country, "and it was overtaken because we did not take care of our irrigation".

He said that President Arroyo told him to focus on the country's irrigation system, "because that is the legacy that the President would want to leave the farmer sector before her term ends.

"You don't have to teach them how to farm, for as long as there is sufficient water, they will plant," Secretary Yap said as he emphasized that the President's fiscal reform program will be felt by the farm sector when "we begin rehabilitating the irrigation facilities".

It will be recalled that the Agriculture Secretary during the MOPC Night at the Grand Ballroom of Intercontinental Hotel last May, said that "in the last 20 years, no sustained program to ensure that irrigated canals and channels are maintained for which reason we have been losing at least 3% or 27,000 hectares of irrigated lands yearly".

"These maybe the costliest investments, yet they are the most fundamental without which agriculture has no foundation to grow from since high yielding seed varieties for rice and corn respond only to irrigated lands," he said.

Meanwhile, DA press report disclosed the agriculture department needs P10 billion more on top of its proposed P21.7 billion budget for 2008 to sustain and accelerate the growth of the agriculture sector to 7% to 8% next year and rake in higher profits for small farmers and fisherfolk. (PIA) [top]

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