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Echague wants to be the Science City of the North

The agrarian town of Echague in Isabela province wants to become not just an ordinary city, but the “science and ecological city of the north” by 2022.

Echague Mayor Francis Faustino Dy said that by tapping science and technology, the effort to be a “science and eco-city” would help the municipality’s residents who are mostly farmers or farm workers increase their agricultural productivity and therefore their incomes, in an environmentally friendly or sustainable way.

“This is really an effort to improve the productivity and therefore the income of our farmers in Echague, but at the same time, we want to do it in a sustainable way,” Dy told The STAR.

“Isabela is number one in corn and quality corn production in the whole country, but we are aware that the use of too much chemical fertilizer is also depleting the nutrients of our soil. So we want to use science in ensuring the sustainability also in any effort to increase our agricultural productivity,” the mayor added.

A farming enthusiast, Dy said that Echague was also interested in organic farming and the application of organic fertilizers in the town’s vast farmlands, knowing that corn farming, the predominant farming crop in the municipality, entails application of chemical fertilizers.

“We want to promote organic farming. We know we can’t do 100 percent organic farming, but we really want to do organic farming here and we want the science know-how to do it with maximum benefit to the farmers,” Dy said.

He said that Echague also has its share of river areas and mountain trails that can be developed into eco-tourism areas.

“Echague really has huge potential for agri-tourism and also eco-tourism,” Dy, previously a barangay chairman who just won his first term as mayor last May, said. Dy said he wanted to pursue the cityhood of Echague, now a first-class municipality, within his three-year term.

Dy and the municipal officials had welcomed Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña who recently visited the Isabela State University (ISU) main campus in Echague.

During the visit, municipal officials had presented Dela Peña with a petition seeking the department’s assistance in their initiative to become the “science and eco city of the north” by 2022.

In the petition, Dy had identified seven priority agenda in the effort. These are the establishment of a science high school in Echague, science-based livestock and poultry breeding farm and barangay feed mill, a scholarship program for young organic farmers, an organic farming demonstration farm particularly an aquaponics demo farm, a bamboo nursery using intermittent mist propagation technology and a ceramic water filter station as well as the implementation of the DOST’s showcase S&T projects such as their Community Empowerment through S&T, and their Rural Health Box (RXBox) kit in Echague.

Fortunately for the town officials, Dela Peña had pledged the DOST’s full technical and even funding support for the various initiatives.

Dela Peña noted that many items in the seven-point agenda could be accomplished long before the 2022 timetable.

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