Press Release
May 3, 2010


AURORA -- Senator Edgardo J. Angara recently led the ceremonial first harvest of basmati rice in Casiguran, as well as inaugurated the Aurora Province Coconut Development Center (APCDC) in Dinalungan.

Angara also reiterated his call to end rural poverty by spurring rural livelihood and boosting agricultural productivity in the countryside.

"The stagnant performance of the agriculture sector remains the primary cause of the high incidence of rural poverty in the country," Angara said.

Citing a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that the number of poor Filipinos has been increasing despite relatively steady economic growth in recent years, Angara stressed the need to boost our agricultural productivity as it will generate more employment in the countryside.

A former secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Angara pointed out that at least 5 million Filipinos in the rural sector are either unemployed or underemployed largely due to "the underutilization of agricultural lands in the country.

The Basmati Rice project is a joint-venture project of Aurora Grains, Inc., PhilRice, and Read Foundation, Inc. on a contract-growing program of the high value, aromatic fancy rice variety.

"Through this project, we will produce organically-grown and high-value rice crops in the Province of Aurora for the benefit of our local farmers," said Angara.

On the project's first phase, 50 hectares will be planted with basmati rice, yielding 130 tons (130,000 kgs) of rice valued at P5.2 million. By the end of the final cropping during the second phase, 250 hectares will be planted with aromatic, high value rice varieties yielding 650 tons (650,000 kgs) of rice valued at P26.0 million.

Meanwhile, the APCDC facility that includes a warehouse and office was inaugurated by Angara, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar G. Garin, Congressman Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Governor Bellaflor J. Angara-Castillo and Mayor Tito T. Tubigan of Dinalungan, Aurora.

The center includes a 2-hectate coconut nursery where thousands of different varieties of coconut from all over the country are grown. As of the end of March 2010, there are 50 hectares planted with a total of 8,210 coco seedlings.

Other crops to be intercropped with coconut include saba banana, sweet potato, cassava and coffee beans set in seedbeds. APCDC currently employs 97 individuals, almost all coming from the Province of Aurora.

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