Irrigation for 2,700 farmers

Irrigation for 2,700 farmers
SunStar File

TO HELP meet their agricultural water requirements amid the ongoing drought, over 2,000 farmers in Cebu City are receiving support from the regional irrigation agency.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) 7 said there are currently 41 irrigation systems in operation, benefiting a total of 2,763 farmers in the city.

Zarline Sambas, media relations officer of NIA 7, told SunStar Cebu on Saturday, April 6, 2024, that these farmers are located in Barangays Adlaon, Agsungot, Binaliw, Bonbon, Budlaan, Buot Taup, Cambinocot, Guba, Lusaran, Mabini, Malubog, Pamutan, Paril, Pulangbato, Sapangdaku, Sirao, Sinsin, Sudlon 1, Sudlon 2, Tagbao, Taptap, Toong and Tabunan.

She said they have been serving most of these barangays since last October.

The NIA 7 said it had adjusted the cropping calendar, starting the cropping season earlier to October instead of November.

For this season, it said it has allocated irrigation for 764 hectares out of 1,159 hectares of firmed-up service areas, prioritizing high-value crops.

Sambas said the decision on irrigation allocation was based on dam statuses and expert projections.

She said they are exploring alternative water sources, such as deep wells, water tankers or mobile pumps in coordination with other government agencies to supply irrigation to the affected areas.

She said the NIA 7 is already looking at constructing a small reservoir irrigation project, such as the proposed impounding dam in Barangay Cambinocot, aimed at boosting existing irrigation systems in the city’s mountain barangays.

She said they are conducting feasibility studies on the proposal.

Sambas said they will also assess and identify affected areas to determine which farmers in Cebu City will benefit from the cash-for-work program of the Department of Labor and Employment to mitigate their income loss.

Cebu City already declared a state of calamity in 28 mountain barangays due to the lack of water and incidents of bushfires as a result of the dry hot season and the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Harold Alcontin, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the declaration came after at least 500 farmers stopped planting their usual crops due to the damage caused by the lack of water.

City Agriculturist Joelito Baclayon said that as of March, 115 hectares of farmland across 28 barangays had been affected by the extreme weather condition.

Cebu City currently has 10,719 registered farmers cultivating various crops, such as lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, sweet corn and tomato.

These farmers are vulnerable to the effects of the ongoing drought.

Last month, Casimero Pilones, president of the Alliance of Cebu City Farmers Association, said some members had opted not to cultivate their farms due to the lack of water, leading to a decrease in farm production.

The group is composed of 72 farmer associations, with each association having 200 to 300 members.

Pilones revealed that farm production had decreased by around 80 percent

ince February. He said before the onset of El Niño, farmers used to harvest 1,000 kilos of eggplants, but now they can barely harvest 200 kilos.

It was earlier reported that Cebu City’s agriculture industry has the potential to yield between P500,000 to P1 million worth of crops daily, with figures surging to over P1 million during peak seasons.

Weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas declared a drought in the entire Cebu Island last month.

Pagasa defines drought as an extended dry condition, characterized by either experiencing five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall or three months of significantly below-normal rainfall.

Below-normal rainfall, as defined, represents a decrease of 20 to 60 percent from the usual amount, while way-below-normal rainfall indicates a reduction of more than 60 percent from the normal figure.

The other provinces in the Visayas that are also experiencing drought are Antique, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Samar.

Eclarino also warned the public that Cebu’s heat index may reach a “dangerous” 51 degrees Celsius in the coming weeks.

A heat index that ranges between 42 and 51 degrees Celsius is considered dangerous, as it can cause heat cramps and exhaustion, as well as a heat stroke during prolonged exposure.

The heat index or “feels-like” temperature combines air temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather feels to the human body.

Eclarino had said that Cebu records its highest temperatures in May, based on historical data.

On May 31, 2010, which also coincided with an El Niño phenomenon, Cebu reached its highest surface temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, accompanied by a heat index of 49 degrees Celsius. / KJF


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