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PIA Press Release

Feature: "Balik sa Basak" for Rugnan farmers

by Rizalina S. Carbon

Cagayan de Oro City (7 May) -- "Balik Sa Basak" or return to farming of Rugnan farmer-beneficiaries who left their farms to become traders, will now be their battle cry with the recent turnover of the completed contract works on the Headgate, Lateral A of Phase I to the Rugnan River Irrigation System at Taraka, Lanao del Sur.

Development efforts funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) made possible this Southern Philippines Irrigation Sector Project (SPISP) at the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the alliance of the National Irrigation Administration-Subproject Management Office.

Actively participating were the regional office in Northern Mindanao, Local Government Units, political and ancestral leaders and the reorganized Irrigators' Association.

The headgate which features the very imposing duckbill structure, the first of its kind in the country, pools the water and releases it to the canals and finally, to the rice fields.

The duckbill is the centerpiece of the project and it brings hope to the once parched lands of Lumba Bayabao, Taraka, Tamparan and Poona Bayabao, all in Phase I.

Rugnan River Irrigation System's service area is bounded by six (6) municipalities namely, Lumba Bayabao, Poona Bayabao, Tamparan, Taraka, Molundo and Maguing in the province of Lanao del Sur.

The system is composed of 80 Barangays, 1,360 farmer-beneficiaries and a service area of 1,350 hectares.

Rugnan RIS is a non-core subproject within the ARMM which replaced Malaig River Irrigation Project, the originally identified core subproject due to the volatile peace and order condition of the latter.

Feasibility Studies was initiated in 2003 but was approved only in mid 2007 which set off the start of pre-engineering and institutional activities. Funds for construction were released in the last quarter of Calendar Year 2008 so that restoration works proceeded in 2009.

The contract works on the Head-gate, Lateral A was completed at the aggregate cost of P56 Million and was turned-over to the Rugnan RIS Management on April 08, 2010 however, ongoing force account works on the construction of sub-laterals is 79.85% accomplished and is scheduled for completion on June 2010. Total project cost is P262,425,000.00.

Land resource study identified the arable area as highly suitable for rice and diversified crops. There is sufficient water supply from Gata, Putian and Taraka Rivers to cover the whole services area.

A review of the system development of Rugnan RIS revealed that it was constructed by the Engineering Brigade, Philippine Army in the 1970s but armed conflict arising from family feuds and intermittent peace and order incursions retarded the repair, restoration and rehabilitation of Rugnan RIS.

Likewise, resolution of the differences through peace negotiations failed adding to the deceleration of the irrigation project.

The Provincial Government of Marawi and the elders of the municipalities in the service area never gave up hope until the hostilities abated and the impingement has become sporadic and less intense.

Farmers who left their lands to caretakers trekked back to reset their ownership and again try their luck in farming.

There is now a distinct willingness on the IA members to pursue "Balik Sa Basak" with the healthy working relationship among stakeholders led by the SPMO, NIA Regional Office 10 headed by Regional Manager Julius S. Maquiling, Lanao Sur Offices (District I & II), the enthusiastic LGU political leaders, respected elders and the Irrigators Associations.

Rugnan RIS is a significant achievement of Engr. Benitez K. Derogongan as a young executive having completed the project activities in his time after a dormancy of more than three (3) decades.

The blessing and inauguration of Rugnan River Irrigation System was divided into three (3) segments: the blessing and ribbon cutting at the Headgate Lateral A, followed by the rice planting demonstration at the System Management and Agriculture Development Area (SMAD), a component of the SPISP and finally, the turn-over ceremony.

The affair was well attended with the presence of the political bigwigs led by the Congresswoman of the 1st District Faysah RPM Dumarpa, Gov. Mamintal Al Adiong, Jr., Mayor Minda P. Dagalangit of Lumba Bayabao, NIA Officials headed by SPISP Project Manager Erdolfo B. Domingo, Manager Maquiling, RURIS Officer Incharge Benitez K. Derongongan, NIA Field Chiefs, IA Officials and members and a convoy of Public Utility Vans carrying around 30 regional office personnel who were allowed to travel to that part of the ARMM for the privilege to witness the event.

April 8, 2010 was a big day for the farmer-beneficiaries of Rugnan RIS. It marked another milestone in the life of its constituents especially in ensuring a flourishing future for the farming community. (NIA-10) [top]

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