Of the nearly 11,000 households in Tuguegarao, 6,132 were dependent on farming and fishing for survival. Many were impoverished, heavily beholden to traders or landlords for various basic needs–from seedlings to school tuition.
Due to lack of access to new farming techniques and to better facilities, the annual harvest was on a steady decline along with the income of the farmers. The result was a Tuguegarao highly dependent on its neighboring towns for food and other produce.
The Tuguegarao City Agricultural and Fishery Modernization Program was developed in 2000 to address the worsening condition in agriculture. The vision was to achieve an improved quality of life for the farming and fishing households. Its components included crop development, livestock development, fishery development, technology and other support services, institutional capability building, and farm and home resource management.
“What we offered was a complete package,” stressed Tuguegarao City Mayor Randolph S. Ting, the program’s proponent. Beneficiaries, in return, will become partners in various local government projects, including the Clean and Green campaign, cultural heritage development, and functional literacy program.
The improved agricultural productivity resulted in a dramatic increase in the farm family income to P7,000 from an average of P1,000 a month. Land preparation cost, on the other hand, dramatically dropped to P1,000 from P1,800 per hectare. Wastage also declined to just 5% from 8-10%.
These resulted in at least two croppings a year when there used to be only one. Other farmlands would have as much as five croppings in just two years.
The province’s Lake Dada became a productive fishing area from a murky body of water lying idle in the city’s midst. For the longest time, the lake was a wasted resource often overlooked because of its brown waters. When found ideal for fish caging, the lake yielded a hefty harvest.
Today, 25 fish cages have been set up for fishermen but the number is closely monitored so fish kill would not occur.
Limiting the fish cages to the lake’s carrying capacity is also meant to protect the natural resource. Mayor Ting said they are exploring Lake Dada’s eco-tourism potential which would promote the protection of the lake while generating much-needed income for various local government programs.
“The program has evolved and the development of the organization has been institutionalized,” said the Mayor.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 2005 Galing Pook Awards.