Trento, Agusan del Sur – Despite of the threat brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government continues its livestock program and launched its “Itik Pinas” in Caraga region.

With its potential production efficiency and improved egg-laying capacity, the Department of Agriculture (DA)- Caraga through its livestock program launched the Regional Center for Native Animal Development, Production, and Learning for ItikPinas, held and located at the Trento Research and Experiment Station (TRES) in Trento, Agusan del Sur, recently, DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda told The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday afternoon.

DA 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Abel James I. Monteagudo together with Regional Technical Director for Operations Rebecca R. Atega initiated the ribbon cutting, which was then followed by a turnover ceremony of 100 female and 15 male ItikPinas strain and one sack of duck feeds to the three identified farmer recipients from the Municipality of Trento, Agusan del Sur, Lingig, Surigao del Sur, and Butuan City on Friday (Oct. 30).

“ItikPinas” (IP) strain is a genetically superior breeder duck which is a product of continuous selection and organized breeding of the traditional Pateros duck. A strain that is smaller in size with a minimum amount of food consumption but with predictable higher egg production performance. The strain was developed by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) as an output for its Duck Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP).

The DA – Caraga through its TRES, withstanding its performance as one of the well managed and high performing stations in the Philippines, was chosen by the National Livestock Program (NLP) to launch the Native Animals Development, Production, and Learning Centers in three strategic regions. This includes the Caraga region, centering to the production of “Itik Pinas” strain as a commodity, RED Monteagudo said.

RED Monteagudo added that the recipients should address this opportunity as a platform to call forth business initiatives that will improve the agriculture sector in the region, that through this, additional livelihood will prosper.

Livestock Program Focal Person Jekem Sanchez expressed that one of the objectives of developing the multiplier farm is to augment the low supply of poultry in the region, specifically the duck.

Elevating the commerce in agriculture, Ryan Raymond Fortich, one of the recipients of ItikPinas strain and owner of the Double R Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT) Integrated Farm in Lingig, Surigao del Sur, said that one of his objectives anchor is on the agricultural diversification.

“I came from the infrastructure sector, I have enough space that has no use already since my business was severely affected this pandemic. I don’t want to lose my workers so I decided to convert my space to an agricultural farm. I kept them busy by building goat house, poultry house, house for farm equipment, and so on,” he said.

“To make use of my 1.5-hectare farm, I acquired multiple livestock and poultry animals for production and also for multiplying,” Fortich added.

From infrastructure to agriculture, Fortich explained that this is a good venture for creating livelihood within his area.

“I have 100 square meter of land allocated only to ItikPinas. I already have plans for this once it’s ready for production. Maybe we can use this for balut, and salted duck egg production. I observed, there’s no producer of such products here in Lingig. Through this, we can create some livelihood. We create business,” he said.

“After all, what matters most is that we gain something from this and we can help so many people especially here in Lingig. So instead of just leaving my land to empty, I make sure to make it productive. Soon, if we are already GAP-GAHP certified, we can attract even more tourists,” he added.

Individuals, farmer cooperators, and indigenous people interested in duck farming may inquire to their respective Local Government Units through the Agriculture Office for endorsement, followed by a letter of intent addressed to the regional executive director.