Editorial: Water harvesting for agri land, as well, why not?

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


AS MORE and more towns are isolated by broken bridges destroyed by floodwaters all over Mindanao, we can’t help but see only all those precious water that runs to the sea in a rampage of destruction, when these could have been stored and used when rainwater is scarce, to water farms.

It’s not even a far-out idea. After all, we are a tropical country, with all the rain and sun. For decades now, the technology has been perfected by those in the continents where rain is very scarce and the poor drink brown water.

The Food and Agriculture Organization classifies water harvesting in two general sense: rainwater harvesting for those that harvest runoff from roofs or ground surfaces, and floodwater harvesting for all systems that collect discharges from watercourses.

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It then has three systems for harvesting for plant production, agriculture.

Micro-catchments and external catchment systems under rainwater harvesting, and floodwater farming for floodwater harvesting.

All these use techniques that simply gather the water without spending so much on infrastructure. Of course, they have limitations, as farmers and agricultural workers only build earth bunds and ridges and depending on the land size and need, stone bunds and rock dams. Bunds are earthen barriers provided in agricultural lands with slopes ranging from 1 to 6 percent, to slow down the runoff and allow the water to percolate into the soil.

But then again, it takes time, it takes a lot of explanation, and yes, additional work, that for someone who only sees the sun shining, will not bother to sweat longer than needed. The payback for not doing something more will be to lose everything in a flashflood.

Then, there is the introduction of water storage tanks to ensure that the runoff are not just slowed down, but stored for the dry season.

As reported by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice), 500 such water storage tanks were build in Capiz in 1989 by the International Development Research Center in Canada.

The Philrice further cited a study, “Adaptability of an In-field Rainwater Harvesting (IRWH) System and Development of Cropping Pattern” by PhilRice Bicol Branch Manager Dr. Reynaldo Castro and his team who built and tested an IRWH in an upland farm in the Abra State Institute of Science and Technology (ASIST).

With the study, Castro also hopes to establish an optimum cropping pattern relative to the configuration of the facility and amount of water stored in it.

“Given the right information on the amount of water available for a specific period coupled with a tailored-fit facility, we can project the most appropriate cropping pattern and enable our farmers to plan ahead of time,” Castro said was quoted as saying.

There is wisdom in working with nature and not waiting for it to destroy us long after we have destroyed it. There are technologies that are time-tested, all it takes is for the technologies to reach where they will make the most difference and in turn will benefit us all.

Just think, with all those harvested rainwater uplands, the rampaging floodwaters will have substantially been reduced up where it all emanates from. Now, for the debris and all those that comes tumbling down because we have allowed our mountains to be deforested? That is where people power should come in.

We’ve seen how we can be wiped out in an instant by all those debris, and yet we’re not raising our voices loud enough to boot out all those that flatten and denude our mountains.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 15, 2014.

Opinion

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