The disruptive effects of global climate change and rice tariffication among other social issues make farming more challenging during these times thus the need for farmers to consider adding crops that can be resilient under different weather conditions.
During a harvest festival on the 10-hectare hybrid rice model farm in Barangay 61 Cataban, this city on Wednesday, Provincial Agriculturist Norma Lagmay said Ilocos Norte continues to be one of the country’s Top 12 rice-producing provinces but time has come that farmers need to strategize so that they will not only depend on rice planting for income.
“We produce more rice than we consume. And with the effect of the rice tariffication law, I hope that we will shift to other crops such as fruits and vegetables as additional source of income,” Lagmay said.
At present, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is in the process of drafting a national crop diversification program to support rice farmers who are struggling in the face of competition from rice imports. In Ilocos Norte, Lagmay said there are areas that are no longer suitable for rice production and these can be utilized for crop diversification.
Crop diversification refers to the addition of new crops other than rice on a particular farm which can help increased revenue, creating new markets and improved rural communities’ quality of life.
Backing this move, Laoag Mayor Michael Marcos Keon told farmers the city government is ready to support farm mechanization and the restoration of soil fertility programs in every barangay to ensure sustainable agriculture.
Meanwhile, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte is also assisting farmers by giving them farm machinery, seeds, and fertilizer subsidy to reduce farming inputs. Other crops being promoted in the province include garlic, shallot, corn, moringa (malunggay), tobacco, mango, and dragon fruit among others.
The Department of Agriculture through the Provincial Veterinary Office is also distributing livestock dispersal to all interested farmers to increase their income. (PNA)