NORTH COTABATO (Carlos Bautista / 27 Jun) North Cotabato’s advocacy for a refocused agriculture with rubber at the helm took on added impetus with the inclusion of rubber in the crops to be given attention in the convergence program implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Jesus Emmanuel Paras, DA Undersecretary, and Manuel Gerochi, DENR Undersecretary, were both convinced by North Cotabato Governor Emmanual Piñol that rubber would effectively enhance the country’s agriculture and economic development program, as well as ensure a more effective reforestation program.
Gov. Piñol gave a presentation on the positive prospects that rubber production has for Philippine agriculture, environment, and the economy as a whole during a meeting with the two undersecretaries to discuss the launching of the convergence program in Macabenban, Carmen next month.
“It is now time for us to decide which major crops we want to focus on, and I agree that rubber should be one of them,” Usec. Gerochi said.
“In areas where they can be grown, we should plant rubber intercropped with jetropa,” he added.
Usec. Paras for his part said that the 10 pilot areas proposed by Gov. Piñol for rubber production outside Mindanao could be adopted by the program.
These include the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Ilocos Sur, Nueva Viscaya, Camarines Sur, Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Antique.
“We have already conducted technical studies on the possibility of planting rubber in these areas,” Gov. Piñol said.
“In fact, we have already established rubber nurseries in Palawan and Negros Occidental in cooperation with local governments in both provinces,” he added.
Gov. Piñol was also able to get the support of DA, DAR, DENR and the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) in funding 45-day national training program for rubber involving agriculture personnel of the 10 pilot provinces and DA regional coordinators at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
The agencies will contribute P800,000.00 each to bankroll the training program which will start on July 1, 2006.