CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the agency recorded the highest production in rice crops nationwide and in the region in 2021.
This, according to DA Regional Executive Director Crispulo Bautista Jr., means that the agriculture sector in Central Luzon remains vibrant amid the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nationally, we produced 19.96 million metric tons (MT) that is record breaking. In Central Luzon, we were able to produce 3.74 million MT, or almost 20% of the national rice production. That is why we [Central Luzon] are called the Rice Granary of the Philippines,” he said.
Aside from rice, the director said that 65% of onions produced in the country come from the region, specifically in the province of Nueva Ecija.
In terms of high value commercial crop or pinakbet vegetables, Bautista said the region ranked second nationwide in terms of production, supplying almost 50% of the vegetable requirement of Metro Manila.
“When it comes to corn, we also have the highest productivity and can compete even with other South East Asian countries. We average almost seven tons per hectare when it comes to this crop,” he said.
The DA official added that the agency is encouraging diversification and intercropping of vegetables since these have short gestation and can provide more income to farmers.
With this, he urged farmers to also venture into vegetable production, especially those whose lands are too large to be irrigated, adding that Metro Manila is a readily-available market for their produce.
“Aside from our usual crops in the region, we also have highland vegetable crops in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. We are now expanding this so that in case there will be shortage of highland vegetables from the Cordillera Region, we have our own supply in the region. Aside from that, there are also farmers in Bataan who grow coffee,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bautista said that Central Luzon is also the top producing region when it comes to chicken and duck meat and duck egg; while it ranked second when it comes to chicken eggs.
When it comes to pork, he said that the region used to be the top producer but it has decreased production as an effect of the African Swine Fever.
“However, to address this, we have a repopulation program that has already started this year and we hope that the private sector will follow. Most of the private sectors, in fact, are already investing in Central Luzon for the repopulation of hogs,” he shared.
The director added that prospects for fisheries in Central Luzon remain positive specifically for bangus, shrimp, and crab since these are the commodities that are really adaptable in the region.
He also shared that the region is also the top producer of tilapia in the country.