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Zero poverty in Batanes but…

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By Jesus F. Llanto
Researcher, Newsbreak
October 15,2008

BASCO—In 2006, Batanes was able to achieve what most local government units in the country aspire—the absence of poverty among its citizens.

Official poverty statistics for 2006 released this year reveal this archipelagic province in the northernmost part of the country registered a zero percent poverty incidence. Poverty statistics for the years 2000 and 2003 showed that Batanes consistently landed on the ten least poor provinces.

Batanes, the country’s smallest province in terms of population and land area, registered a 10.4 percent and 6.3 percent poverty incidence among families during 2000 and 2003, respectively.

Batanes governor Telesforo Castillejos said the zero poverty incidence could be attributed to the fact that almost all Ivatan families engaged in farming, and therefore has assured source of food. “Almost all the families have a piece of land to till.”

Difficulties of linking with neighboring provinces and the unpredictable weather, said the governor, have taught the Ivatans to be self-reliant. “Our mentality is we cannot always depend on the outside [mainland] especially when the seas are unnavigable so we have to go farming,”

“Even government officials and employees here are involved in farming,” the governor added.

Despite a huge number of families involved in farming, the province’s agriculture sector was not able to take off and maximize its potential due to weather and transportation problems. Tess Castilejos, provincial trade and industry official, said that these problems have discouraged the farmers from planting more crops so they can trade with other provinces.

“They only produce [agricultural products] to be self-sufficient,” DTI’s Castillejos told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak. The DTI official also said that lack of access to market has hampered the growth in agricultural production.  (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

Click here to continue reading the story.

This is the second of  a three-part series on the province of Batanes. The first part discussed organic farming in the province.

(Disclosure: The author is among the journalists who visited Batanes during a media appreciation seminar sponsored by NEDA.)

Beyond typhoons: Organic farming thrives in Batanes

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By Jesus F. Llanto

October  15, 2008

  

 

 

 

 

BASCO-Whenever people hear the word “Batanes,” images of strong winds and rains pounding stone houses usually come to their minds. But for the Ivatans, the province’s native inhabitants, the mainlanders’ perception of their home is inaccurate.

“We want to erase the perception that it [Batanes] is dangerous,” said Batanes governor Telesforo Castillejos adding that they want to change this misconception by promoting Batanes as an eco-tourism destination.

Located in the northernmost part of the country and in between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, Batanes is on the typhoon belt. The perception that it is always devastated by typhoon might have been caused by the fact that Basco, the province’s capital, hosts the last weather station in the northern part of the country.

“Batanes is always mentioned as a reference point of the typhoon,” said Milagros Rimando, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director for Region II. Rimando added that Batanes is always mentioned in weather reports even when some of the typhoons do not really cross the province’s islands.

Weather and geography

Local officials, however, admit that the frequent weather disturbance, the province natural strong winds and waves, and its archipelagic nature—the province is composed of  ten islands—have  hampered the development of its agriculture and trade. Lack of infrastructure for transport of goods from one island to another, and from mainland Luzon makes the problem worse.

“We could be isolated anytime,” said the governor adding that the seas are sometimes unnavigable even when there is no typhoon. He added that during these times, goods cannot be brought from one island to another because small vessels and boats are used in transporting them.

The prevalence of typhoons prevents the development of agriculture, particularly the production of staple crops like rice and corn. The province imports rice from neighboring provinces. “We produce only 10 percent of our rice,” said Castillejos.

Governor Castillejos added that vegetable production is very erratic in Batanes because of the weather and transportation problems—scarcity during summer and surplus during the rainy season. He said that during rainy season there is a surplus of vegetables since boats cannot transport them to other markets. “Farmers just feed the extra supply of vegetables to the pigs.”  (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

Click here to read the rest of the story.

This is the first in a three-part series of stories about the province of Batanes.

(Disclosure: The author is one of the journalists who visited Batanes last September as part of the media appreciation seminar sponsored by NEDA.)

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