Ilocos Norte Farmers Air Woes to DA honcho

BATAC CITY, July 22 — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala did more than barnstorming Ilocos Norte by hearing out farmers’ woes and delivering more than P6 million in agriculture support for the province’s farming sector.

Alcala made a quick visit to this province today but he made sure he heard the concerns of Ilocos Norte’s farming sector during the farmers’ forum held at the Teatro Ilocandia at the Mariano Marcos State University.

Farmers raised various concerns from marketability of their farm products, high cost of farm production and the cancellation of oil subsidy for farmers.

Alcala said Ilocos Norte will continue to receive support from the Aquino administration to improve the province’s agriculture sector.

He said the pantawid pasada assistance was canceled due to issues of ownership of farm tractors that were being utilized by ordinary farm tillers.

“Who owns the tractors….. but the rich landlords. The oil subsidy will not go directly to farm tillers because they do not own tractors,” he said.

Alcala said the government is studying other alternatives to provide cash support to farmers to replace the pantawid pasada program.

As initial grants, the Laoag city government received some P825,000 to establish a cold storage facility while farmers of Bacarra town will soon have its bagsakan area for farm products with the release of P4 million. On the other hand, onion producers will have their onion drying facility with the release of P1.3 million.

Alcala said other projects intended for the province include an irrigation dam and fish cages which are set for implementation before the year ends.

He also assured farmers of their products’ marketability by helping them identify direct buyers from abroad instead of relying on middle men to trade their crops. (Cristina Arzadon)