Early planting and innovative solutions spelled the difference. In the face of looming El Niño threats, the agricultural
community in Ilagan took proactive measures, resulting in a success story that defied expectations. Before the onset of the El Niño phenomenon, farmers were advised to plant early, particularly in hilly areas, which constitute 40 percent (7,107 hectares) of Ilagan’s corn fields. The advice proved pivotal, more than nine thousand farmers or 91 percent of corn farmers heeding the call to plant as early as October.

This proactive approach shielded the majority of farmers from the adverse effects of El Niño, with only 9 percent
reporting severe impacts of drought-related losses. Ilagan, covering an expansive land area of 116,626 hectares, with 17,768 hectares dedicated to corn farming. During the dry season from December to April, statistics reveal a remarkable resilience in Ilagan’s corn production. According to the City Agriculture office, despite the challenges in 2023, from drought and typhoons causing floods, the total area planted with corn was 17,082 hectares, yielding
85,410 metric tons (MT) valued at ± 1,383,642, with corn priced at ± 16.20 per kilo.

In 2024, with continued advocacy and innovative solutions in place, the total area planted was 17,006 hectares, yet
production soared to 142,624.50 MT valued at ± 2.396-million. The increase in production are attributed to concerted efforts by the Department of Agriculture and the local government unit of Ilagan. Joint projects focused on
agricultural extension development include- crop monitoring, distribution of hybrid corn seeds, and the establishment of the iCorn Complex and Corn Innovation Center. These hubs not only provided farmers with access to technological updates but also offered innovative tools like drones for fertilizer spraying, mobile and solar-powered irrigation systems, among others.

“Malaking tulong po sa aming magsasaka yung pagpapahiram ng gobyerno ng modernized patubig, at drone na pang fertilizer, bukod sa nakakatipid po kami ay napapabilis ang trabaho”, Jovan Geronimo said. Moreover, the local
government’s proactive stance extended to disaster preparedness. In response to typhoons, the city agriculture office
encouraged affected farmers to sell their damaged crops to the LGU. These damaged crops were then processed into corn silage, serving as livestock feed. This initiative not only provided an avenue for farmers to recuperate losses but also contributed to sustainable agricultural practices.

”Isa po kami sa mga naunang pinasubok sa corn silage dahil nababaha kami dito sa Camunatan, bale, sa 75 days ay pwede na naming ibenta yung tanim namin, sa isang hektarya namin ay nag aani kami ng 40 tons, tapos nabibili ng
tatlong piso kada kilo.’ Kevin Rivero said. ‘Maganda po ito dahil hindi na namin kailangan mag patuyo sa mga dryer, dahil sa tindi ng araw ngayon ay mas gusto ko nalang mag antay ng 75 days at hindi na mag aalala kung babaha man o tag tuyot basta kumikita parin kami”, Rivero added. The success story of Ilagan’s corn farmers serves as a testament to the power of early planning, innovation, and collaboration between government agencies and local
communities. By embracing modern agricultural practices and leveraging innovative solutions, Ilagan has not only
mitigated the impact of El Niño but also positioned itself for sustainable growth in the face of future challenges.

Tsidkenu Denise F. Ignacio- UB Intern/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon