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PIA Press Release

UPRIIS assures sufficient water for irrigation

by Maridenise S. Cudia

Quezon City (10 February) -- In the face of the looming long dry spell which would most likely hit the province of Nueva Ecija, officials of the National Irrigation Administration- Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (NIA-UPRIIS) here assures farmers of sufficient supply of irrigation water from Pantabangan Dam.

In the consultative meeting held last week attended by farmer leaders, heads and representatives of different government agencies under the Department of Agriculture, the Department Manager of NIA-UPRIIS Antonio S. Nangel allays fears of farmers of impending drought.

Nangel assures that Pantabangan Dam can sufficiently sustain the water requirements of standing crop and can even accommodate the quick turnaround cropping or third cropping plus the ratooning farming.

"Pantabangan dam water level of 207 meters, as of this time (February 9) is still above operation rule curve. Given the 102,550 hectares we programmed this dry crop 2010 and its total water requirement of 1,283.71 MCM until harvest time in April, Pantabangan Dam is still at the ideal or safe level of 194.00 meters. With this water elevation, UPRIIS can still program around 25,000 hectares for third cropping or Quick Turnaround (QTA) or Ratooning or both at the same time," Nangel explained during the meeting.

The judicious releases of water from Pantabangan reservoir the UPRIIS management made during the onslaught of typhoons last year was hailed not only by the local government but by neighboring provinces as well such as Pampanga and Bulacan.

Even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who visited the province after typhoon "Pepeng" lauded the coordination of Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio M. Umali and Nangel. When Senate Committee on Climate Change chaired by Senator Loren Legarda summoned all dam operators in Luzon in the wake of devastating floods in Pangasinan, Pantabangan dam under Nangel was singled out as having observed the proper protocol in water diversion.

Owing to the well-observed procedure in water releases from Pantabangan dam during typhoons, the UPRIIS was able to program one hundred percent of its firmed up service area equivalent to 102,550 hectares.

By April or when the standing crops shall have been harvested, the dam elevation is projected at 194.00 meters.

"At 194.00-meter water level of Pantabangan Dam, UPRIIS can accommodate the quick turnaround or the third crop after the main and dry season cropping. And it can even provide for rice ratooning without sacrificing the wet crop season program for 2010," Nangel added.

Rice ratooning is the ability of the rice plant to regenerate new tillers after harvest. UPRIIS is strongly pushing for rice ratooning because it has low irrigation requirement, lower production cost, and higher yield per unit area in less time.

Present during the meeting were Department of Agriculture Region 3 Director Redentor S. Gatus, PhilRice Driector Ronilo Beronio who both lauded the efforts of UPRIIS to wade off the adverse effect of El Niņo on rice production.

Gatus assured available seed and subsidy for fertilizer to farmers adopting QTA while Beronio said PhilRice would prepare flyers to disseminate information on rice ratooning.

The farmer leaders who attended were the federation presidents of Irrigators Associations (IA) comprising the Board of Directors of the UPRIIS Confederation of Farmer Irrigators Associations (UCFIA).

UCFIA claims for its members some 380 IAs within the service area of UPRIIS in Nueva Ecija, parts of Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac. It has 76,000 farmer-members who actively participate in the operation and management of irrigation systems covered by UPRIIS as well as in the collection of irrigation service fee.

The bold move of UPRIIS in programming 25,000 hectares for QTA and ratooning this year is supported by different intervention programs with farmers as direct beneficiaries.

UPRIIS has institutionalized the coordination and sourcing of intervention programs to help farmers maximize their yield starting from production loan from Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to securing hybrid or certified seeds, to the use of organic fertilizer, to flat bed dryer and up to marketing through the National Food Authority (NFA).

The meeting was well attended with representatives from NFA, LBP, Bureau of Post Harvest and Research Extension (BPRE), National Seed Quality Control Service (NSQCS), Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and GMA Rice-DA RFU3 coming in full force.

This group comprised the Nueva Ecija Agricultural Coordination Committee where Nangel sits as the Chairman. (UPRIIS) [top]

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