ILOILO – The multi-million Agri-Aqua Research and Technology (ART) Center, a learning hub for farmers and fisherfolk pursuing sustainable agriculture and fisheries, opened on Wednesday in Barangay Nanga, Pototan town.
First Lady Cosette Defensor, the wife of Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., spearheaded the opening ceremony with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Director Remia Aparri, Provincial Administrator Raul Banias and Provincial Agriculturists Ildefonso Toledo.
“Before his term ends, Art (the nickname of the governor) wanted to complete this project. He has your support from the very beginning because he wanted Iloilo to become an agri-aqua tourism area in region someday. It is always been his dream,” said Defensor.
Since he grew up in a farm, the first lady added that the governor himself is fond of farming and it saddens him to see the poor state of farmers these days despite the advancement of technology.
“What he wanted is for the farmers to escape the cycle of poverty. He wanted to improve the quality of life of the farmers by providing them with the right education and technology to succeed in agriculture,” she stressed.
Situated in a 12-hectare lot, the ART Center showcases best agri-aqua practices and technology that can help farmers and fishermen increase their production and profit.
The ART Center primarily promotes agri-aqua systems and organic farming techniques resilient to the effects of climate change.
In terms of fisheries, the complex features an Integrated Freshwater Aquaculture Park and Technology Center where quality broodstock (tilapia, catfish, pangasius, etc.) and fingerlings are maintained and produced for dispersal.
In terms of high value crops production, it has a Rice Research Demonstration Farm showcasing different hybrid and inbred rice varieties.
“Palamayanan”, a model of diversified integrated rice-based farming system, can also be found inside the center. Such system employs practical, cost-saving and yield-enhancing management practices in growing rice and vegetables.
ART Center also produces good quality of rice, corn, fruit trees and vegetable seeds for dispersal and ideal source of planting materials.
In terms of livestock, ART Center breeds quality goat and swine. It likewise raises native chicken for egg production and dairy cattle for milk production. These eggs and fresh cow’s milk are used in the feeding program to eliminate the incidence of malnutrition among children in Miagao and Passi City.
Anyone who wanted to avail the services of the ART Center will only need to write a letter address to the governor.
“All they need to do is to coordinate with us so we can arrange or set the schedule for demonstration and training,” Toledo said. (Jezza A. Nepomoceno/Capitol News)