BANSALAN Davao del Sur -- During cropping season, farmers here meet in the ricefields at least six times to conduct repair and maintenance of their irrigation canal.

The "tagbo" as they locally term their convergence could even go beyond the usual agreed time if there is a need to repair damaged portion of their irrigation structure.

"Every member is compelled to join the tagbo as part of their obligation to our assocation," said Oscar Tañara, president of the Badoma Irrigators Association (IA), whose areas cover the barangays Barayong, Dolo and Marber.

The P12.5 million irrigation project under the Department of Agriculture-Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP) covers 405 hectares benefiting 320 farmer beneficiaries from this town.

Tañara said members pay a penalty of P200 per day if they fail to participate, adding that the convergence is their way to observe adequate proper and maintenance of the project.

"After heavy rains we need to clear the irrigation lining as eroded sand and soil affects the flow of the water," he said.

He said damaged portions of canal lining are immediately repaired to avert further damage. "We have also constructed top-born of six inches cement to control overflowing of water particularly in newly fertilized paddy fields," Tañara added.

"This irrigation project we have availed ourselves of from MRDP has improved our yield and income. We need to sustain it so we will continue to enjoy its benefits," he said.

Adequate water has increased the average rice yield of farmers from 5 tons to 6.5 tons per hectare.

The monthly collection of P1,000 per hectare from their members enables them to fund repair and maintenance activities.

"We have fully paid our association's loan of P412,000 from NIA [National Irrigation Administration]," he said adding they have also constructed a warehouse cum office.

MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos said repair and maintenance of irrigation facility is one of the measures that program beneficiaries should observe to sustain their project.

"Irrigation maintenance is very important to preserve the utility of the project. The program lauds the initiatives of the BADOMA irrigators association in adopting measures that could sustain the project for a longer period," Ramos said.