Benguet town bags national agri prize

BAGUIO CITY — The town of Itogon in Benguet was adjudged the Best Implementing Municipal Local Government Unit on Organic Agriculture, Mayor Victorio Palangdan said in an exclusive interview Thursday.

Palangdan said the award was recently given by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol in Cagayan de Oro City during the National Organic Agriculture Congress.

Itogon won against national finalist Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Municipal agriculture officer, Berto Bayeng, also won the Best Focal Person in Organic Agriculture award.

Itogon had also won similar awards in the regional level for three consecutive years, emerging as the best among its rivals from the different provinces in the Cordillera region.

Palangdan said a number of farms are currently producing organic rice in Barangays Dalupirip and Tinongdan, as well as Loacan, Ampucao, Ucab and Tuding, which are also producing a big quantity of organic vegetables.

Winning an award of PHP1 million, the mayor said Itogon is gearing towards improving the packaging and expansion of the market of organic produce, not just for local consumption but also elsewhere in the country.

Palangdan said the town’s campaign for the promotion and implementation of Republic Act 10068, or the Philippine Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, has the strong backing of the legislative body led by Vice Mayor Adriano Carantes.

“The council made the projects possible after they passed ordinances, administrative issuances, allocated funds over 5 percent of the development fund in the annual and supplemental budgets,” Carantes said.

He cited the ordinance for the promotion and development of organic agriculture in the town, an ordinance earmarking at least 5 percent of the 20-percent development fund for organic agriculture programs, projects and activities, and another designating every first and third Monday of every month as municipal market day for organic products.

The support and assistance of partner agencies of the national government and private entities and companies operating in the municipality helped in the implementation of the local programs, he said.