15,000 Cordillera rice farms spared from drought

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – More than 15,000 hectares of rice farms in the different rice-producing areas in the Cordillera were spared from the serious negative effects of the feared El Niño phenomenon which is now affecting most parts of Mindanao, an irrigation official said here.

Engr. John Socalo, regional manager of the Cordillera office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR), said the rice farms were spared from the effects of the drought because farmers started harvesting early coupled with the frequent rains in the watershed areas providing adequate irrigation for the farms in the low-lying rice-producing areas.

“Our farmers in the different parts of the region are still very lucky because they were able to harvest their quota for the dry cropping season even before we will realize the effects of the drought that is why we will be assured of abundant rice supply in the coming months,” Socalo stressed.

He said based on their weekly monitoring of the three major national irrigation systems, particularly the Hapid irrigation system, Upper Chico river irrigation system and Upper Magat irrigation system, there were still abundant flow of water in their respective intakes which is subsequently distributed to the beneficiaries of the irrigation systems.

Socalo said one of the major advantages of the rice farmers in the region was that there are still some areas in eastern Mountain Province, parts of Ifugao, Apayao and parts of Upper Kalinga that get continuous rains even during the summer months that is why the region’s river systems do not go dry but instead have adequate water supply for irrigation and domestic requirements of people living along communities.

He said effects of the possible drought in the region could be assessed after rice farmers who planted their crops late shall have harvested their palay by the middle of next month considering that most farmers in the region were able to plant early and are now harvesting their crops early.

Socala assured farmers that the agency will continue to improve the state of communal and national irrigation systems regionwide in order to help them have a bountiful harvest every cropping season for them to sustain their living condition.

Communal irrigation systems service less than 1,000 hectares of agricultural farms while national irrigation systems service more than 1,000 hectares of farms in their respective service areas.

According to him, the spared number of hectares from the drought will definitely contribute in the realization of the government’s rice self-sufficiency at least for the region alone considering that each hectare could be able to produce an average of 100 cavans of rice every cropping season.

Socalo reminded rice farmers to timely settle their obligations with the agency right after their harvest considering that the funds to be generated from the payment of irrigation fees will be used up to maintain the operation of the irrigation facilities in order to boost the rice production of farmers in the different parts of the region, especially during the dry cropping season, where farmers need abundant water to sustain their production.

By Dexter A. See

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