P.6-billion irrigation facilities to rise in Camarines Sur
By Mar Arguelles
Legazpi City (13 July) -- The government will invest some Php.6 billion in irrigation facilities to spur agricultural production in Camarines Sur the rice granary province in Bicol, a top executive of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the other day.
Carlos Salazar, NIA administrator said his agency had earmarked P670,607,300 funding to finance the construction of a new diversion dam, irrigation canals and rehabilitation of existing irrigation facilities in the towns of Libmanan and Cabusao, in Camarines Sur.
The project include the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities in some 4,000 hectare of rice lands in the locality in the amount of P289 million; construction of a diversion dam to replace the existing system operated by pumps costing P276 million and construction of diversion canals at P106 million.
The project is targeted to start on October this year soon after pertinent documents and clearances are obtained such as DENR Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC), Department of Finance – Corporate Affairs Group (DOF-CAG), and endorsement from the Camarines Sur Development Council.
The LIbmanan-Cabusao Irrigation Project is one of NIA's pipeline project under the Bicol River Basin Watershed Management Project (BRBWMP) a priority project of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Salazar with his deputies visited Bicol on Friday as part of the agency's nationwide irrigation assessment activities to check on the status of the NIA irrigation projects across the country.
Salazar at a media interaction said the Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation project aims to irrigate an area of about 4,000 hectares in 16 villages in the towns of Libmanan and Cabusao in the 1st District of Camarines Sur.
The P670 million project is designed to construct a diversion dam to replace the four existing pumps installed in the area and rehabilitate and improve the existing irrigation facilities, Salazar said.
He said under the old system fuel powered generators are used to pump water to service various farm lands in the locality, but the high cost of operating and maintaining the pumps limit the extent of irrigable area.
Agency records indicate that the four pumps can only irrigate 1,570 hectares of rice lands during wet season and 1,470 hectares during dry season while under rainfed condition, about 1,390 hectares and 400 hectares were also planted to rice during wet and dry seasons respectively.
By replacing the pumps to a diversion dam, it can extend the irrigable area to 4,000 hectares benefiting over 4,000 farmers of the two towns.
In a related development, Salazar said that under the irrigation modernization program of NIA the government has earmarked some Ph 22 billion funding to be used to construct and restore irrigation facilities in some 368,000 hectares of farm lands across the country.
NIA records indicate that the country has 1.2 million hectares of irrigated lands of this 368,000 or 30 percent are not functional.
In Bicol, 54,000 hectares are irrigable areas but 15,000 hectares of this are unoperational.
He said the agency modernization program implementation started in 2006 until 2010, "so by this period, we look forward for a more improved irrigation service which will then result to food sufficiency in the country," he added. (PIA) [top]