WITH persisting problems on water shortage, highland and rice farmers are urged to venture into water conservation.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his visit to Baguio City, said the Philippines has everything needed for agriculture, however, the three resources have been taken for granted.
“During rainy season, some of us drown in the flood and yet during the small period of absence of rain we already cry for water. Why? Because we have not managed our water resource. We have allowed water to fall from the skies, roll in the creeks and rivers, towards the oceans and the seas and we have not even conserve the water,” the agriculture official said on Friday, March 8.
“Our number one mistake in this country is taking for granted the blessings that god has given, fertile land, sunlight and water,” Piñol said.
This year, he added they will begin proposing to Congress a bill that will require all communities to implement water conservation and preservation program such as small water impoundment, water catchment, conservation of watershed area among others.
“Our population is growing, our time will come that our land resources and water resources may not be able to feed the entire population in the matter we produce right now,” Piñol said adding the move is also in lieu of the agency’s implementation of sustainable agriculture.
In the Cordilleras, farmers both experienced “andap” or frost and El Niño. DA-Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management focal person Lito Mocati said El Niño has far more wider scope when livestock are also not spared and there is reduced stream flow leading to insufficient water for irrigation following the reduction in yield and total crop loss.
As early as July 2018, advisories where provided by Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) on El Niño, a natural phenomenon affecting the normal rainfall pattern in the country and extended period of dry season.
Mocati added there is need to harvest rainwater by collecting and storing from land surface catchments for future productive use. As early as December, farmers should have started water management and fixed there irrigation canals.
Based on the PAG-ASA climate outlook data as of February 17, shows at the end of March 2019, 41 provinces of which 25 in Luzon are seen to likely experience dry spell, including five provinces in Cordillera region.
At the end of April 2019, 42 provinces are seen to experience dry spell majority in Luzon with 21 provinces including Ifugao, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bataan, Bulacan, Nuea Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Aurora, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Marinduque, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon.
The weather bureau also added 17 provinces in Luzon are likely to experience drought in Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan and Catanduanes.
In the end of May, Pag-asa sees 33 provinces in the country that will experience drought.
During his visit, Piñol announced an Israeli group presented a solar power irrigation proposing to construct 6,200 units of smart irrigation with central monitoring system in DA.
They are funding the proposed project of P44 billion not only for rice farms but for vegetable farm.
He said the irrigation system will rely on the sunlight that will hit the solar panels, solar panels will produce energy, water pumps will draw water from river and to the vegetable gardens.
“We have a lot of sunlight, it is during the summer months is the most intense, we need more water and it is a time where the solar power irrigation system could be most effective,” he added.