I. Norte ranks top rice producer

LAOAG CITY, March 8 — Ilocos Norte has become one of the leading rice producers in the country as the local farmers here  have practiced new farming methods.

The farmers now use disease-resistant hybrid seeds, said provincial agriculturist Norma Lagmay.

“Our rice plants are generally healthy because our farmers are very receptive with the new technologies,” Lagmay said. “Unlike in other regions, we only come across minor problems like urea and nitrogen overdose but these are isolated cases only and it happens very rarely.”

Lagmay described Ilocano farmers as naturally talented when it comes to rice planting.

Last year, Ricarte Corpuz of Laoag City was awarded as the most outstanding hybrid rice farmer in the Philippines by the Department of Agriculture.

Corpuz was given the award after achieving a total yield of 34 metric tons or 685 cavans (of 50 kilos each) of palay (paddy rice) per hectare in a span of three cropping seasons last year.

Lagmay said as of this month, 58 percent of farmers here are now using hybrid seeds. She said the PAO targets to increase that number to 79 percent by the end of 2013.

“We want to encourage our farmers to start using high quality seeds to sustain food security and self-sufficiency of rice in Ilocos Norte” said Lagmay.

As per record of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics this year, Ilocos Norte is 278 percent self-sufficient in rice, the highest in Region 1, Lagmay said.

Ilocos Norte was included in the top 10 rice producing provinces in the Philippines last year receiving P4 Million-worth of agricultural projects from the DA.

This summer, PAO is aiming to produce 120,000 metric tons of rice. (JCR/APT PIA1 Ilocos Norte) #