LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – The provincial government  of Ilocos Norte has started the construction of its three-story research and extension center to boost local farming practices in the province.

The project is one of the commitments of the provincial government for being one of the five pilot provinces in the Philippines to lead the Department of Agriculture’s synergized agriculture and fisheries extension services.

Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc led the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of the project or the so-called Ilocos Norte Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (INAFES) at the Provincial Agriculture Compound in Laoag City on September 10, 2020.

“After devolution, naging fragmented na ang agriculture extension services natin. Kaya naisipan naming i-collate lahat ng efforts, skills, at resources upang mabigyan ng mas mabisang solusyon ang mga problema ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” said Provincial Agriculturist, Mrs. Norma Lagmay.

Lagmay said that a Participatory Rapid Appraisal will be applied to 70,000 farmers and 15,000 fishermen in Ilocos Norte for a more centralized and comprehensive data in the agriculture sector.

“Magkakaroon na rin ng Farmers’ ID System para may data tayo kung ano na ang mga assistance na nakuha nila, ano na ang mga trainings na nasalihan nila, at para na rin ma-gauge natin ang resources at kakayahan ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Lagmay added.

She said that the Provincial Agriculture Office is eyeing to establish agri-business and manufacturing centers in the province through the INAFES. This will further link the local farmers and fishermen to bigger markets.

For his part, Governor Manotoc is positive that INAFES will usher in the growth and development of the province’s farming sector. “Agriculture is still the foundation of our economy, and we have to strengthen this sector and further support our farmers and fisherfolk. We are very hopeful that INAFES will be instrumental in assisting our farmers, most importantly, the synergy and collaboration that INAFES will provide,” said Manotoc.