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More than ‘munggo’: Isabela’s San Mateo is an agro-ecological city in the making

POPULAR for the enormous production of mung beans, or munggo, San Mateo town in Isabela is geared toward becoming the first agro-ecological city up north.

In 2007 the town bagged the most-coveted Gawad Galing Pook Award. In its report, the Galing Pook Foundation discovered that locally called balatong, munggo, is a drought-tolerant crop. The root system of this leguminous crop also restores the fertility of the soil, as it is filled with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

The Gawad Galing Pook Award is given by the Galing Pook Foundation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, United Nations Development Program, Unicef and the Local Government Academy.

The San Mateo local government devised a plant-now, pay-later scheme to intensify munggo production and entice farmers to try the program. Through this system, farmers could avail themselves of 20 kilos of munggo-seed stocks per hectare and only pay for them after harvest.

The town has more than 7,000 hectares of farms planted to mung beans during the dry season.

A production of 800 to 1,000 kilos of munggo per hectare at the prevailing price of P32 per kilo translates to incomes ranging from P25,600 to P32,000 per hectare. This means a P224-million additional income for local farmers during summer.

San Mateo began celebrating the Balatong Festival, which included site visits of munggo demonstration farms, seminars and a farmers’ forum on the various aspects of munggo production and marketing.

Other municipalities in Isabela, like Cabatuan, Roxas, San Manuel, Luna and Aurora, are now replicating this program.

Declared as the “Mungbean Capital of the Philippines,” the cleanest and greenest town in the Cagayan Valley region is a cutflower, banana and watermelon basket in the making.

In his last term of office as the town’s chief executive in 2010, former San Mateo Mayor Roberto Agcaoili, who was re-elected municipal vice mayor with his wife Mayor Crispina Agcaoili, has transformed the 33-barangay municipality from third class during his first term to its present first-class status.

“The honors and awards we have captured demonstrate our brand of leadership, dedication and commitment to our mandated mission,” Vice Mayor Agcaoili said.

The three-term mayor, who himself bested 35 other municipal chief executives to become Isabela’s most outstanding mayor, said his municipality found no difficulty participating in the Galing Pook competition because the agricultural technology on munggo production has been practiced in his town one year after he took over as mayor in 2001.

Agcaoili has been cited by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines for bagging two Punong Bayan Awards of Excellence gold medals for his town’s winning a Galing Pook award and the Presidential Lingkod Bayan award he got, the highest award given by the Civil Service Commission to a public servant.

In 2008 barangays Old Centro and San Marcos received in Malacañang a total of P1.5 million for winning the nationwide search for the best implementation of Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, or Republic Act 9003, in their respective categories.

The town also landed twice as Presidential Most Child-Friendly Municipality in the country and bagged the Best Disaster Coordinating Council in the Cagayan Valley region.

“We are the only municipality in the province which joined the Guinness World Record feat through the continuous promotion of exclusive breast-feeding activity, where 80 mothers participated from our municipality,” said Agcaoili, who is a doctor of medicine by profession.

The San Mateo Municipal Registrar’s Office was adjudged most outstanding from the three levels of government: provincial, regional and national.

Municipal Treasurer Marygine Salvador and Municipal Assessor Antonio Bartolome both received Hall-of-Fame awards as top grosser in the collection of real-property taxes in the provincial level.

The town’s Rural Improvement Club has been cited national winner during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino and during President Benigno Aquino III’s term.

Home to winners of the Ten Most Outstanding Farmers in the Country, the municipality brought home for two consecutive years (2012 and 2013) the prestigious Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Award.

After achieving and becoming a first-class municipality, the town has been launched as an agro-ecological destination in the Cagayan Valley region.

“Resting upon this goal is our hope of promoting our countless agricultural products and services, hand in hand with existing national and international research facilities being hosted by our municipality, like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, PhilRice and the Bureau of Plant Industry,” said the lady mayor.

Like the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, re-elected Isabela Gov. Faustino “Bojie” Dy III eyes San Mateo to become the first agro-ecological city in the country soon.

In Photo: For its enormous production of munggo, San Mateo, Isabela, has been declared “The Munggo Capital of the Philippines.” (Right photo) Showcasing varieties of mung-bean products at the Techno Pinoy Center in San Mateo, Isabela, Agriculture Officer Emiliano Camba and staff display samples of mung-bean coffee, mung-bean wine and mung-bean noodles.






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