By Freddie G. Lazaro

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Farmers in the Ilocos region are transforming into Agri-entrepreneurs amid the COVID-19 pandemic through the Innovative Family Enterprise Development (IFED) program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 1.

This is to ensure food security in the Ilocos region at the height of the COVID crisis in the country.

Recently, the DA in Ilocos region re-aligned P10 million from its Research and Development (R&D) fund for the implementation of the project “Re-focusing R&D Actions towards Food Security” through the enhanced IFED.

DA Region 1 Executive Director Lucrecio R. Alviar, Jr. initiated the enhanced IFED program to transform subsistence farmers and livestock raisers into agri-entrepreneurs through improved free-range chicken and egg production, including vegetables as well as corn production.

The project will supplement the various strategies and interventions currently implemented by DA’s and its partner local government units and institutional agencies to ensure food sufficiency while the region is under community quarantine.

Project Coordinator Cathy Pastor said the enhanced IFED involved six municipalities and three cities in Region 1 under the improved chicken and egg production component while the vegetable production will conduct at the research and experiment stations of the DA Regional Field Office 1 (DA RFO1) located in Dingras and Batac in Ilocos Norte, Bacnotan in La Union; Sta. Barbara and Sual in Pangasinan.

These research stations have their own vegetable seed production project wherein the produced seeds will distribute for vegetable gardening projects in the region.

Out of the P10 million fund for the project, a total of P7 million will use for the implementation of the IFED thru an improved poultry and egg raising project.

The remaining P3 million fund will use for the implementation of the IFED on vegetables with a P2 million budget and P1 million for young corn and green corn production.

As to the project guidelines, DA-RFO 1 will purchase day-old chicks to be raised for five months at the DA satellite stations.

“Once the chicken reached the hardening or growing period and ready to lay eggs, these will distribute to the farmer-recipients,” said Pastor.

The R&D group will provide the project recipients with the technical know-how in poultry production. The group will conduct a technical briefing cum seminar on poultry raising specifically focused on housing, feeding management, health management practices.

Meanwhile, 33 farmers from Lidlidda, Ilocos Sur received another component of IFED project with a total of 1,696,666.00, which composed of P1,100,000.00 worth of cattle, P570,000.00 worth of goats and P26,666.00 worth of vegetables.

Of the 33 farmer recipients, seven of them were recipients of goat comprising five does each for six farmers and two bucks for one farmer-recipient.

For cattle, 25 farmer-recipients received one heifer each while one is a recipient of bull. All 33 farmer-recipients will also receive various vegetable seeds for planting.

Pastor said that their office will utilize the Package of Technology (POT) on cattle and goat production to evaluate the effect of indigenous dewormer in improving the growth and health parameters of the livestock. The POT includes integrated nutrient management, pest management, and disease management.