DA denies water project displaced N. Cotabato farmers-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Mindanao has vehemently denied accusations that the construction of the water impounding project in a hinterland town in North Cotabato province have displaced thousands of farmers in the area.
DA-Soccsksargen regional director Amalia Jayag-Datukan, in a statement, said there is no truth to the accusations hurled against them by the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) that the Small Water Impounding Project (SWIP) in Barangay Ladayon in Arakan, North Cotabato has caused dislocation to thousands of vegetable farmers.
In fact, Datukan said, the project has encouraged migration of farmers and their families as DA has provided them access to markets and planting materials for their crops, including atswete, corn, cacao, and other cash crops.
“We have provided the farmers with seeds of the open-pollinated varieties for white corn and other vegetables. We also encourage the use of sustainable indigenous agricultural practices while urging farmers to adopt new, appropriate and effective technologies in crop production, livestock, poultry and other agro-forestry development projects,” she said.
Datukan issued the statement to erase doubts or confusion allegedly created after the NPA rebels torched on August 18 four heavy equipment used in building the project.
She denied the project has wrecked serious destruction to the environment at Mount Sinaka as alleged by the Mount Apo sub-regional command of the NPA.
Datukan’s office was furnished on August 22 a copy of the NPA statement through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in North Cotabato.
The DA, through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), funded the SWIP as proposed by the Local Government Unit of Arakan.
The SWIP is envisioned to serve about 50-100 hectares of rice production areas.
An SWIP is an earth dam with designed length and height of a dam and spillway based on topographical survey to impound sufficient water for irrigation purposes.
On the issue of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), the BSWM said that the project has an embankment volume of 24,000 cubic meters, as per detailed engineering design and Program of Works.
“The ECC is not required if the embankment volume is less than 20 million cubic meters and if service area is less than 300 hectares,” Datukan said.
She also denied that the DA had a meeting or agreement with the University of the Philippines-Mindanao when it covers the watershed area while constructing the project.
She said there is no planned stock farm program in the Mount Sinaka watershed area in North Cotabato.
“Only a dozen cows and a dozen carabaos have been distributed to the households in the locality. This is to help them in their farming activities and while pushing for the production of animal manure as alternative organic fertilizer and potential source of income,” Datukan said.
All these, she stressed, is part of an integrated diversified and sustainable farming model in the community. (Malu Cadelina Manar)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 26, 2013.