Isabela is the country’s second biggest grower of rice, the biggest of commercial corn that’s used for feeding livestock.  And the province that’s landlocked by rough coasts beaten by Pacific Ocean weather needs to truck their millions of tons of staple grain the hundreds of kilometers to exit the fertile Cagayan Valley.  No surprise that it was there, just last week, that Isuzu hosted their first ever Truck School session outside Metro Manila.  On March 21 and 22 in Aurora City, the country’s top truck-maker trained scores of drivers of their fleet operator customers from Isabela and Cagayan, trained them on keeping their top-of-the-line EXZ tractor heads in good and efficient operation.

Truck School students get hands-on training on Isuzu’s top-of-the-line EXZ tractor head

Dubbed the Hybrid Rice Champion of the country,  Isabela grows dwarf rice–a breed engineered to have shorter stalks, requiring less resources to bring to maturity than conventional rice, and making these more hardy against wind and storm. Their crops are of such quantities that farmers contract out the gathering of these to small mechanized harvesters that can each process 50 cavans a a day.

A harvester crew at work in a dwarf rice field

The 1.3 million tons of rice that Isabela produces each year amounts to 224 percent of the province’s consumption, with the surplus production being trucked through Dalton Pass in Nueva Vizcaya on through Nueva Ecija and to Metro Manila and points further south. The very definition of long haul missions, these hundred-kilometer trips through countless towns and high mountain passes take two days each way.  And, like super-tankers carrying other basic commodities, its heavy lift tractor trailers that are the most efficient rice haulers, each pulling 30 to 40 tons of payload.