With their continuous efforts and contribution in increasing the nation’s rice production for food sufficiency and food security in 2013, the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan in Ilocos Region were among the top 10 provinces honored in the 3rd Annual Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever’s Award held at the Resorts World Manila on March 13, 2014.

The municipalities of Manaoag, Pangasinan; Cabugao, Ilocos Sur; Laoag City and Vintar in Ilocos Norte; and Aringay, La Union were also awarded in the said event. These municipalities were awarded for their vital contribution in helping the country increase in rice production along with the 47 agricultural extension workers who have worked hard to deliver the extension support services needed by the farmers in Ilocos thus, contributing to the increase in rice production as well as sustaining the region’s rice self-sufficiency status.

The Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards is an annual activity of DA to recognize the contribution of the major players in helping the country to increase its rice production. As a way of interventions and incentive system to encourage the LGUs and the AEWs’ painstaking effort and support to the food security agenda of DA, cash awards and project grants were given to the awardees as the DA’s little way of showing gratitude and appreciation to their contributions.

For the second time, the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan enjoyed the limelight as they were awarded in CY 2011 and CY 2013, respectively. As awardees, each of the provinces awardees received from DA P4M cash awards to be used in funding agricultural development projects while the five municipality-awardees were also awarded with P1M worth of project as grants. The 47 AEWs each received from DA a total amount of P25,000 plus a plaque of recognition.

As a basis in determining the total municipalities as entries from each regions, the selection committee identified the total contribution of each regions to the total national production. In region I, its contribution to the total national production of around 5% gave way for the region to be allocated with top 5 municipalities. The regional Office through the Rice Program have evaluated the top ten performing municipalities based on the set guidelines and criteria by the Regional Selection Committee.

Meanwhile, out of the 500 AEWs in the 16 regions vying for the top performing extension workers, DA-RFO I garnered 47 slots who came from the top 5 performing municipalities including the municipalities of San Nicolas, Bacarra, and the cities of Batac and Laoag in Ilocos Norte and the municipalities of Aringay, Naguilian, Sudipen, Balaoan and Rosario in the province of La Union. The AEWs of Natividad, Malasiqui, Sison, Rosales, Sta. Maria, Sta. Barbara and San Carlos City were also recognized in said awarding ceremonies.

In a meeting during the rice assessment and planning workshop, Dr. Paz L. Mones, Regional Rice Program Coordinator and the RTD for Operations emphasized to the AEWs that they need to work hard especially those aspiring for the award.

The top provinces, towns and cities, and AEWs were chosen based on the incremental rice harvest and average yield per hectare over 2013 levels, increase if any over 2013 target, amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives, number of farmers benefited, and the degree of rice seed utilization, among other criteria.