NIA Benguet to hold irrigation forum
by Lito Dar
Baguio City (29 August) -- The National Irrigation Administration will hold an irrigation forum next month to tackle priority irrigation issues and projects in the province.
This was announced by Provincial Irrigation Officer Engr. Benito Espique Jr, who said the forum is tentatively set on Sept. 29-30. Invited to attend the forum are different the municipal mayors,agricultural officers, farmers, irrigation associations/federation as well as provincial officials. Government agencies in-line with the food security and irrigation programs will also be represented at the said forum.
Espique reported that there are 25,746 hectares of potential area for irrigation development in Benguet, of which 70% is planted with vegetables and other high value crops, while 30% is planted with rice. Of these potential irrigable agricultural lands, NIA has already developed irrigation systems on about 12,803 hectares or almost 50%.
Espique also announced that farmer beneficiaries who are interested for an irrigation system could submit a resolution to their office so they can conduct a feasibility study of irrigation system/project in their areas. He explained that they offer two schemes of irrigation implementation to farmer groups, the 30-70 scheme wherein if the farmers provide the 30% cost of the project - through labor, materials or hauling, then they will be free of amortizations. The other scheme is the 10-90, wherein the farmers provide the 10% percent of the project cost and an amortization involved.
Based on the study they have conducted, farmlands in the province have increase their crop yields after it has been irrigated, Espique said. Their data showed that with irrigation, rice yields in the province increase to an average of 2.6 - 4.0 tons/ha, from 1.5 -2.3 tons/ha. The same result comes out of that of vegetable crops in the province.
Espique also confirmed NIA's involvement/commitment to watersheds preservation and restoration, as he explained that they are also one of the beneficiaries of the water coming from our watersheds. Accdg to Espique, for the past two years, through a directive from their regional director, they are involved on watershed- base irrigation projects and their reforestation efforts not only concentrate on pine trees but agro-forestries as well, to give additional income to farmers. NIA has also a watershed management plan for Agno river and also a MOA with DENR regarding watersheds.
Meantime, NIA-Benguet Asst PIO Engr Ronilio Cervantes reported that for 2008 NIA-Benguet has lined-up 210 hectares of irrigation projects, which could benefit 270 farmers and job generation of 129. About 1,000 hectares of irrigation projects also awaits funding that could benefit more than 2,000 farmers and could generate about 1,000 jobs.
Other existing projects/programs of NIA mentioned by Cervantes are the Balikatan-Sagip Patubig Program - on which LGUs and farmers serve as their counterparts for the repair and rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems and pump projects. (PIA) [top]