SUPPORT TO FARMERS. Farmers in the province of Ilocos Norte receive various equipment on Feb. 2, 2023. More drying pavements will be constructed to further boost their productivity courtesy of the Ilocos Norte government. (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – Fourteen units of multipurpose drying pavements worth PHP7 million will be constructed in various parts of Ilocos Norte to increase the income of farmer cooperatives by offering more quality produce.

"With the solar dryers, farmers are expected to avoid drying their produce along road shoulders of highways, thus also reducing post-harvest losses,” acting provincial agriculturist Ma. Theresa Bacnat said on Monday.

Multipurpose drying pavement is a solar dryer where farmers can dry various crops such as rice and corn.

She added that the construction of the 14 solar dryers is expected to start as soon as Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc and the recipient farmer associations and cooperatives will be able to sign a deed of donation soon.

In a previous consultation with farmers, most of them requested solar dryers.

Shermman Valdez, a farmer from Badoc town, said the presence of accessible dryers will make their work easier and faster.

Last Feb. 2 as the province celebrated its 205th founding anniversary, additional 40 units of a combine harvester, four units of 4-wheel tractors, six units of multi-cultivators, and eight units of hand tractors were turned over to various farmer associations in the province.

Apart from the continuing farm mechanization initiatives of the national government to protect farmers' sources of livelihood, and increase their productivity and profitability, the Ilocos Norte government in the past two years has also allocated a total of PHP562 million for agricultural machinery, equipment and inputs.

These include the construction of 272 small farm reservoirs, five small water impounding projects, 10 multi-purpose drying pavements, 64 tractors, eight combine harvesters, and 12 tobacco curing barns.

While encouraging more farmers to shift to high-value crops such as garlic, mango, dragon fruit, shallots, onions and tobacco which are more marketable than palay, Manotoc assured all farmer-cooperators that they will be given full-service assistance, from pre-planting to marketing their produce.

“We have the national government on our side. So, let us capitalize on the moment,” said Manotoc in an earlier talk with farmers as he vowed for agriculture modernization, tourism investments as well as manufacturing and product processing to generate more jobs and livelihood. (PNA)