NIA-UPRIIS, agri stakeholders draw plan to use possible excess water this year

January 16, 2012 11:47 pm 

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, Jan. 16 — The National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS), along with other stakeholders, are drawing measures to translate into rice production its flood control program that involved release of millions cubic meters of water in the second half of this year.

Engineer Josephine Salazar, NIA-UPRIIS operations manager, has recently presented to agriculture stakeholders, including agriculture officials, local government units, financing and research institutions, and farmers’ organizations, the agency’s plan to program a third or early wet cropping and two ratooning seasons for 2012.

This, she said, is on top of the regular dry wet that involves 11,689.24 hectares which requires 1,439.30 million cubic meters (mcm) and wet cropping with 106,591.63 hectares which requires 664.16 mcm.

Ratooning, an Israeli farming technology that has been practiced in few hectares being espoused by the NIA-UPRIIS will be made twice, in between cropping seasons, at 25,000 hectares programmed areas in some parts of Nueva Ecija and Bulacan provinces.

Pantabangan Dam which primarily supplies water to NIA-UPRIIS’ service area stores a total of 3,000 mcm at 230 meters water level. This elevation is expected to be met at the onset of rainy days, particularly with the La Nina phenomenon.

Dr. Freddie Toquero, dam and reservoir manager of Pantabangan Dam, said based on new dam protocol, crafted after the devastating typhoons last year, Pantabangan Dam reserve should be placed at no higher than 216 meters above sea level by the third week of August.

The provision, he explained, is aimed at maintaining a space to avoid sudden release of water once typhoons bring heavy rainfall.

“We, therefore need to use that water rather productively,” Toquero said.

By third cropping or early wet season, Toquero added, water elevation at Pantabangan Dam is expected to lower to 210.88 meters, “still comfortably enough for the next season.”

The third cropping or early wet is set at around 45,590 hectares, Salazar said.

Andrew Villacorta, regional director of the Department of Agriculture, and National Rice Program Director Dante De Lima, who participated the recent coordinative meeting, acknowledged the efforts of various sectors in working for the government’s rice self-sufficiency program.

De Lima said irrigators organizations, the group of farmers who benefit from irrigation systems, are considered the core area of investment in rice program, saying 70 percent of the nation’s total rice production are produced by them.

Farmer leader Dante Lazatin has expressed support to the program.

“But because this is the first time and we have to convince farmers in this high-risk season, we have to be assured of government supports,” he said.

But De Lima said the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation play vital role in ensuring that farmers’ efforts will not go to waste. (PNA)

LDV/zst/MEG/ps

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