BANAUE, IFUGAO: The local government unit (LGU) of Banaue is facing a big hurdle in restoring portions of the legendary rice terraces damaged by age and neglect, among other factors.
Mayor Jerry Dalipog of Banaue said 332 hectares of the 1,607-hectare heritage site need to be restored immediately.
In an interview, Dalipog said at least P65 million is needed to restore the 332 hectares of damaged terraces.
He first requested funding for restoration from the administration of then President Gloria Arroyo but roads were her priority projects.
Dalipog added the Department of Agriculture (DA) allocated P20 million to begin the restoration of the damaged portions.
“At the moment, the LGU is getting its funding from the Development Fund, which is 20 percent of the total budget of Banaue,” said Dalipog.
“Part of the 20 percent will go to other projects so a very small amount is left for the terraces,” he said.
Dalipog said the program to restore the rice terraces is a short-term solution and the long-term solution is to encourage the younger generation to go back into farming, which is next to impossible, because many of them look for work outside of their communities after graduation.
Another solution is the partnership of the LGU and the Ifugao State University where the youth are encouraged to enroll in agricultural courses.
“We offered a 25-slot scholarship program for agricultural engineering courses at the Ifugao State University but only a handful availed of it,” Dapilog said.
He said the intervention of different organizations, government agencies and non-government organization is not enough to save the Banaue Rice Terraces.
“The only solution is for the younger Ifugao generation to return to agriculture,” Dapilog added.