Making Ilocos Region bullish

LAOAG CITY, Dec. 23 — The Ilocos Region comprising the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan has begun positioning itself as a gateway for growth branding itself as the “Agribusiness and tourism powerhouse in Northern Philippines.”

To set the goal in motion, the Ilocos Regional Development Council has drawn a five-year development plan from 2011 to 2016 that would serve as a road map to making the region bullish in meeting its growth targets.

According to an RDC official, the plan sets the direction in implementing integrated and coordinated programs of the Ilocos Region to overturn a declining growth rate from 2007 to 2009.

The National Statistics Coordination Board, said the negative growth rate was a result of the global economic crisis and destructive typhoons that hit the region between 2007 and 2009.

The Ilocos Region’s road map focuses on the so-called growth nodes in the areas of agribusiness, trade, tourism and business process outsourcing.

Ilocos Norte, for example, has started bringing the province back to business with a flood of fresh tourist and business centers, a component of Gov. Marcos’ grand tourism plan to make the province a major investment and tourism hub in Northern Luzon.

The neighboring province of Ilocos Sur, the region’s heritage seat, is catching up on today’s trend of building eco-tourism adventure points to catch a wider tourism market.

The Poro Point Special Economic Zone in La Union remains a major investment hub attracting more businessmen to pour their resources in priority investment areas.

Pangasinan, which physically occupies a vast geographical component in the region, promises a bustling industrial and economic center through the Pangasinan eco-tourism zone development, Sual industrial estate development, and the soon-to-rise Alaminos International Airport.

The region’s traditional cash crops will continue to play a critical role in the region’s agribusiness sector.

The tobacco industry, despite facing tough worldwide campaign against tobacco use, will prove to be resilient driving tobacco producers to shift to alternative uses of the product such as bio-pesticide or raw material for pulp and paper.

The agriculture sector, mindful of farming innovations and the adverse effects of climate change to its farm inputs, has adopted appropriate strategies ranging from making use of climate change-resilient planting materials, fingerlings, animal stocks, fertilizers, chemicals and feeds to cost-effective and environment-friendly technologies.

Local products will also be subjected to branding and certification to boost the marketing campaign of the One Town One Product (OTOP) products of the local government units with the provincial governments playing the lead role.

These products will then be the priority for export promotion and development as branding and certification shall prepare them to the requirements of major export clients and target markets in the region.

All these and more are envisaged to make the Ilocos Region regain its position as agribusiness and tourism powerhouse ready to challenge its neighboring regions. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)