WATER scarcity is one pressing problem for many communities in the country. There is an increasing demand for clean water for household activities and for raising animals and crops. Water is vital to the production of crops for fresh consumption free from any contaminants that are chemical or biological in nature. Agricultural water usage in Northern Luzon has been articulated by a group of researchers from Benguet State University in the Project "Adoption and Impacts of Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation Systems and other Water-Saving Practices for Highland Horticulture," spearheaded by Dr. Cheryll Launio. The project was funded by the Commission on Higher Education-Discovery-Applied Research and Extension for Trans/Inter-disciplinary Opportunities (CHEd Dare To). The researchers explored the practices of the 279 small-holder vegetable farmers in 30 barangays in the municipalities of Atok, Buguias, and Kibungan in the province of Benguet, Bauko, Mt. Province, and Tinoc, Ifugao.

The researchers found that less than 50% of the 30 highland vegetable farming municipalities are either fully irrigated or have irrigation that can fully support dry season and third season crop. However, there is a need to emphasize the critical role of natural resources such as springs, rivers and creeks in sustaining the highland vegetable industry of small-scale irrigation systems.

The irrigation facilities used by the farmers include sprinkler and hose which is the most commonly used drip irrigation adopted by 60% of the highland farmers. Two percent of highland farmers also use cemented and plastic reservoir tanks, earth embankments (ponds) while the others use water pumps from rivers and creeks when water supply is low. The most common yet highlighted concerns from the farmers about these irrigation systems were clogging, water shortage, low water pressure in dry seasons and maintenance expenses in sprinkler and drip irrigations. Furthermore, there is insufficient scientifically-based recommendations on proper water management for particular vegetable crops especially when using sprinklers or drip irrigation.

The idea about the adoption of sprinklers and drip irrigation indicates that these technologies are more likely to be adopted when it matches the farmers' farming systems context. As the overall implication, promotion of technologies, such as the low- cost greenhouse technology of Benguet State University may increase the likelihood of farmers adopting drip irrigation. Extension efforts to promote the use of drip irrigation is needed to ensure available technologies and market for better crops with greater crop frequency.

This study is intended to identify knowledge gaps and provide policy recommendations, not only for research, but also for directions in irrigation development and natural resource management. With that in mind, the researchers and stakeholders acknowledged that there is a need to enhance water management efforts and adopt Research for Development technologies to maximize crop productivity. Higher Education Regional Research Center (HERRC).