DA 6 considers fuel aid for shallow tube wells
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (17 February) -- With the onslaught of the El Nino phenomenon, the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas (DA 6) proposed in their contingency plan submitted to the DA central office, a fuel assistance for "tasok" or shallow tube wells to help cushion the impact of the dry spell.
DA 6 Director Larry Nacionales disclosed during the recent PIA-Cable Television program that there are areas in Western Visayas with existing shallow tube wells, and "based on our inventory we have around 2,700 shallow tube wells in the region".
Nacionales emphasized during the said PIA-CATV program that they will look into those that are still functional and give some fuel assistance.
Should the plan be approved by the DA central office, this could help alleviate our farmers from the shortages of irrigation water for their crops.
Under the proposed plan, Nacionales said that they will extend P1,000 for one-hectare lot with crops on its vegetative growth stage; and P500.00 for crops under reproductive stage.
Meanwhile, the DA Press Office disclosed that the government is rationalizing the use of irrigation water by scheduling their use in farming communities as part of the conservation measures it is currently implementing to ease the impact of the El Niņo dry spell on the agriculture and fisheries sector.
DA Undersecretary Benie Fondevilla said water conservation measures should be implemented even beyond El Niņo's onslaught as part of the government's long-term measures to ensure the adequate supply of water to farms. Fondevilla said the DA is now studying a plan to place concrete linings in irrigation canals to prevent water seepage.
The DA press report disclosed that Fondevilla said earlier that the DA is realigning P1.2 billion from its regular budget this year to bankroll a slew of El Niņo mitigation measures. On top of rationalizing the release of irrigation water, the other mitigation measures include cloud seeding operations over watershed areas; provision of pumps, engine sets, fishcages, vegetable seeds; building small scale irrigation facilities; and alternative livelihood assistance.
Of this amount, the DA is carrying out P570 million-worth of intervention measures for the palay sector, Fondevilla said. Under its 2010 El Niņo Mitigation Program, the DA will also set aside P613.7 million to carry out intervention programs for the corn subsector; another P411 million for high value commercial crops (HVCC); and P117.4 million more for fisheries, Fondevilla said.
As early as December last year, the DA had already created its own task force to carry out programs to raise crop production along with farmers' incomes in the face of the then-looming El Niņo attack. This DA task force is focusing in mitigation efforts on 23 "highly vulnerable" areas and 24 "moderately vulnerable" areas in the country. The highly vulnerable areas are Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Cavite, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga City, Sarangani and South Cotabato. As for the "moderately vulnerable" areas, these are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt Province, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Romblon, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Bohol, Samar, Zamboanga Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga Sur, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Davao Sur and Davao City.
Fondevilla said that based on studies made by the Department, a total of 453,204 hectares of land planted to palay, 227,843 hectares of corn areas and 14,160 hectares in the fisheries sector are threatened under a prolonged El Niņo attack, the DA press report disclosed. (PIA6) [top]