DA-12 wants rice terraces in SouthCot

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 23 Sept) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 is planning to replicate Banaue’s world-renowned rice terraces in upland areas of South Cotabato province and other parts of the region.

Zaldy Boloron, DA Region 12 acting operations chief, said they are presently exploring several upland villages of T’boli and Lake Sebu towns in South Cotabato for the possible construction and development of the rice terraces.

He said the initiative will mainly take off from the ongoing rice terraces development project being facilitated by the agency in a mountain village of Arakan town in North Cotabato.

“We will expand this project soon in T’boli and Lake Sebu towns and later on in some other upland areas of Region 12,” he said in a recent gathering of rice farmers here.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Boloron said they initially found T’boli and Lake Sebu towns as expansion areas for the project due to the presence of thriving upland farms.

He said the area has several rivers and other water resources that could provide the needed irrigation supplies for the planned rice terraces.

T’boli and Lake Sebu, which are located in South Cotabato’s upper valley area, has some rice production areas but are mostly concentrated in the lowlands.

The upland or mountainous portions of the two municipalities host some plantations of pineapple, banana and abaca but a large portion of the area remained unutilized or undeveloped.

In Arakan town, DA-12 is presently assisting the construction of rock walls and rice terraces in Barangay Datu Ladayon.

The cement-made rock walls, which mainly prop up the terraces, were being built near the town’s 100-meter-high Matigol Falls in Sitio Inamong of Barangay Datu Ladayon.

Farmers from various parts of the region helped build the initial rock walls in July in a series of hands-on trainings organized by the agency.

DA-12 tapped two rock wall-making experts from Batad, Ifugao province for the training program.

“We helped organize the rock wall builders in Arakan into a cooperative and we will replicate that in the other areas of the region,” Boloron said.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA Region 12 executive director, earlier said the rock wall-making and rice terraces development are part of the agency’s flagship projects.

Once completed, she said DA-12 will promote the rice terraces as part of the region’s tourist attractions.