CONTRARY to the allegation that rice production in the municipality of Baungon, Bukidnon has decreased due to the siphoning of water of the town’s irrigation canal by a bulk water supplier, there was actually an increase in land converted to rice farms, a National Irrigation Administration Northern Mindanao (NIA-10) official said.
Kienzel Glenn Carrillo, officer-in-charge of NIA-10’s Bubunawan River Irrigation System (RIS) office based in Baungon, said in an interview Wednesday, October 10, that from 2013 to 2018, land devoted to rice production in Baungon has gone up to 212 hectares in 2018 from 132 hectares in 2013.
In 2014 and 2015, rice farms went up to 159 hectares. Land used for rice production declined to 151 hectares in 2016, but rose again in 2017 to 194 hectares. This further increased to 212 hectares this year.
Baungon has a total land area of 32,834 hectares.
Per data from NIA-10, the Bubunawan RIS, servicing at least six Baungon villages, has a total irrigated area of 194.56 hectares for rice, 53 hectares for annual crops, and four hectares for other crops.
Just recently, lawyer Ernie Palanan alleged that Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. was to blame for the decline in rice production because it allegedly tapped NIA’s irrigation canal.
In news reports, Palanan represented himself as the spokesperson of a farmers’ group whom he claimed was affected by the contract between NIA-10 and Rio Verde for the selling of irrigation water to the latter.
Because of the deal that allowed Rio Verde to siphon water from NIA-10’s irrigation canal in Baungon, Palanan blamed the company for the reduction of rice yield of farmers in the municipality.
He said NIA-10 sold about 40,000 cubic meters of water to Rio Verde at 13 centavos per cubic meter.
According to Rio Verde in a statement, it buys only 1,667 cubic meters of water per hour, or 40,000 per day, from NIA-10 at 17 centavos per cubic meter. The volume of water flowing in the Bubunawan river is 79,200 cubic meters per hour.
The firm said it is only “extracting two percent of the available water flowing along the Bubunawan river.”
In his January 23, 2018 letter to NIA-10 regional irrigation manager Ali Satol, NIA-10 head of the agency’s north satellite office Raul Montebon has assured that despite the selling of water to Rio Verde there is still enough supply for the municipality’s farmers.