Your GPS is not wrong: Mindanao has rice terraces

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WORKERS and agriculture officials pose for a souvenir picture on the rock walls that will form the future rice terraces of Arakan, North Cotabato. PHOTO FROM DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CENTRAL MINDANAO

COTABATO CITY—Agriculture officials see Central Mindanao as the new home of the country’s rice terraces as more and more agricultural workers undergo training on terrace construction and farming.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has visited the farming village of Datu Ladayon in the town of Arakan, North Cotabato, to inspect rock walls being built by agricultural workers.

Alcala could not hide his amazement that he told local officials and farmers that he “will personally bring this to the attention of President Benigno Aquino III.”

“Datu Ladayon has the perfect ingredient to become the newest tourist destination as rice terraces will soon rise here when the rock wall is completed,” Alcala said.

“It will be the region’s first rice terraces,” he added.

Alcala said he was also amazed at how farmers worked together in building rock walls where irrigation was not a hindrance due to free-flowing water from thick forests.

Alcala said aside from being the newest tourist destination, the village could become a model community development project of the country in the management of natural resources.

Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino said the rock walls were being built near the town’s 100-meter-high Matigol Falls in Sitio Inamong, Barangay Datu Ladayon, so irrigation is not a problem.

Arakan is home to caves, waterfalls, cold and hot springs and the 500-hectare Forest Wild Life Park in Barangay (village) Salasang and is nestled with centuries-old trees and wild animals like the Philippine Eagle.

North Cotabato is home to the Asia’s longest zip line in Makilala town, and the Asik-Asik Falls that looks like a wall curtain with water flowing from the side of the mountain in Alamada town.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, agriculture regional director, said the rock wall construction was a flagship project of the department.

Alcala designated Dante de Lima, assistant agriculture secretary, as overseer of the rice terraces project.

Last week, a team of agriculture extension workers from Quezon province came to teach and transfer the technology of rock wall construction to two batches of agricultural extension workers in Arakan.

Alcala urged the extension workers and Department of Agriculture officials to transfer the technical know-how of rock-wall-making to other farmers so that “together you will make history.”

Rubino vowed to provide all the necessary support, both logistical and manpower, to ensure the success of the project.

Central Mindanao is composed of the provinces of North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Koronadal, Tacurong and General Santos City. Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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