LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR) requested the allocation of around P35 million from its central office to bankroll the implementation of appropriate El niño mitigating measures in order to lessen the impact of moderate or severe drought to the overall production of farmers regionwide.
Engr. John Socalo, NIA-CAR regional irrigation manager, said the identified interventions such as the purchase of surface water pumps, establishment of drainage re-sue catch dams and installation of reservoir tanks and distribution pipes will significantly help in reducing the impact of moderate or severe drought to the number of farmlands that will be affected.
Earlier, the NIA-Car predicted that more than 4,450 hectares of combined rice and non-rice farms serviced by communal and national irrigation systems and at least 15,650 hectares of rice and non-rice farms will be affected once moderate or severe drought will prevail in the region next year.
“We are ready to implement the identified drought mitigating measures once our central office will give us the green light to implement our identified mitigating and adaptation measures to spare at least a portion of the farmlands from being damaged by drought,” Socalo said.
In terms of the installation of surface pumps, Socalo said at least P19 million is needed for the purchase of 190 surface pumps which will be given out to the affected farmlands in communal irrigation systems numbering to 100 units and farmlands serviced by national irrigation systems having a total of 90 units.
He said a total of 2,356 farmers tilling a total land area of 702 hectares both serviced by communal and national irrigation systems will directly benefit from the purchase and installation of the surface pumps.
Socalo said the agency needs at least P11 million in order to establish drainage re-sue catch dams that will benefit 236 farmers tilling a total land area of 155 hectares regionwide.
In terms of the installation of water tanks and installation of pipelines, the NIA-CAR official cited at least P5 million is needed to purchase 50 units that will benefit 341 farmers working in a total land area of 571 hectares of rice and non-rice farms regiowide.
Socalo said the agency’s preparation for the expected serious negative effects of moderate or severe drought to the productivity of farmers regionwide was based on earlier forecasts of weather experts from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) during the middle part of this year that drought is expected to prevail in the country next year.
He said moderate drought is said to prevail of there are intermittent rains from January to March while severe drought is considered to be existent if there is totally no rain from January to May which will have a bigger impact on the region’s agriculture sector, especially rice farms in Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Apayao.
He appealed to the farmers to be ready with the expected prevalence of either moderate or severe drought by adjusting their planting calendar in order to help minimize the effects of the phenomenon to their overall production of rice and high value crops.
By Dexter A. See