Provincial gov’t to boost agri production, develop growth areas for 2023

DG file

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Iloilo provincial government will focus on maximizing agricultural production and developing more growth center areas for 2023, according to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

Defensor laid down the province’s development thrust for 2023, which is centered on Iloilo’s agricultural production and other innovations to create a strong middle class in the province.

“To maximize agricultural production, create a value chain for agricultural products, and in the process generate employment and business for the province’s agricultural-tourism industry,” part of the province’s development thrust read.

Defensor added that the thrust for agriculture is attainable since Iloilo is an agricultural province.

“We want to maximize agricultural production, and we have been doing that because we are an agricultural province and we like it that way and are proud of it,” he said.

The governor, however, noted that the province still needs to improve the value chain for agricultural products and “process them into something else, so that we can fill the gaps.”

He cited how the province has large agricultural land intended for sugarcane, coffee, and cocoa, but there is no known candy or chocolate industry in Iloilo.

“Example, practical situation, may sugar industry kita, large part of our agricultural land is devoted for sugarcane, and we have cocoa and coffee, pero wala kita candy industry di sa Iloilo. Very good chocolates come from Australia, US, UK, pero wala man to cocoa and tubo, kita may ara kita sina, so there’s a gap that we want to address. We want to do that by creating a value chain.,” the governor said.

“We are exporting live hogs (before the ASF outbreak), pero wala kita sang pork processing industry, tama ka limitado sang produkto naton nga pork and we need those things. Those are the gaps that we want to pursue and fill, and in the process, we can generate employment and business for the province’s agricultural-tourism industry,” he added.

Aside from the agricultural industry, Defensor also emphasized that the provincial government wants to “develop growth center areas that shall serve as investment centers for the information and communications technology and light industries.”

“We are selling the province to the developers who want to put up light industries and IT parks in the province. That is why gina-plastar naton sang maathag ang sitwasyon sang province in terms of electricity, land, internet connectivity, and water, because these growth areas will depend on those four,” Defensor added.

The governor also said that the improvement of agricultural production, as well as having more growth center areas will create job opportunities for the Ilonggos which will lead the province to “create a strong middle class who shall be financially capacitated clients and customers of the province’s service industry and commercial establishments.”

Defensor also urged the business sector to help address the gap in the local economy as the direction of the province is “private sector driven” and will not happen without the help of entrepreneurs.

The province’s development thrust is also anchored to the MoRProGRes Iloilo campaign, or “Movement for a Robust, Progressive, Globally Competitive, and Resilient” Iloilo province, which is how Defensor envisions the province to be in 2023.