THE MUNICIPALITY of Banaue in Ifugao targets to achieve rice sufficiency, create jobs and draw more tourists with the rehabilitation of its abandoned rice fields.
“If the 540 hectares will be restored, our target here in Banaue is after the project, you are going to eat Tinawon rice here in Banaue,” said Mayor Jerry Dalipog.
Tinawon is organic rice grown only by farmers in the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. It is harvested only once a year.
“The produce of 1,607 hectares is 3.4 metric tons and our population is decreasing. With the entrance of visitors and exportation of Banaue farmers, I think there is a sufficient rice and we will not buy anymore outside if the 540 hectares will be planted,” he added.
During the town’s celebration of Imbayah Festival, guest speaker retired general Ramon Yogyog urged the municipality to further maintain culture, preserve and sustain its heritage sites.
“The heritage sites that anchored our culture, the Banaue Rice Terraces is the anchor of the people,” Yogyog said.
With a P3 million finding donated by a company as part of its corporate social responsibility for the rehabilitation of the abandoned terraces, rice production is expected to increase.
Dalipog said the terraces were abandoned because of the lack of farmers and worm infestation.
The introduction of huge worms which are said to help loosen the soil has instead further caused landslides, according to Dalipog.
Despite the presence of an agriculture school in the province, Dalipog said the younger generations prefer to take nursing, law, and engineering courses.
He said they were encouraging the youth to study agriculture and cultivate the abandoned terraces.
“With small number of farmers, we are encouraging families in Banaue to encourage their children to take up agriculture,” the mayor added.