Panabo farmers ask NIA, local government to repair irrigation system

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 August) — Farmers appealed to the city government of Panabo, Davao del Norte and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to repair the damaged irrigation system that supplies water to about 5,000 hectares of rice plantations in the city.

In an interview at the sidelines of Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao on Monday, Peter Edulantes, a farmer of Barangay Southern Davao, said several farmers had stopped planting rice as vast tracts of land had dried up after the 10-km irrigation system spanning 12 barangays was damaged by Typhoon Pablo.

The irrigation system was still serving a portion of neighboring Carmen town, also in Davao del Norte, he said.

Edulantes said the irrigation canals had gone through four repairs already since NIA built it in 2009.

But he said NIA did not use concrete but only piled sandbags which were easily damaged.

He said weeds had covered the rice fields and most farmers have incurred income losses as they could no longer plant the crop.

Some resorted to planting corn in their rice fields only to fail because this crop would only rot when water accumulates after a heavy downpour, he said.

Edulantes lamented that since 2013 the local government of Panabo and NIA had not acted on their request for repair.

“Walay action among local officials. Naguba unya wala gi-repair (Our local officials have no actions. It is already damaged yet it has not been repaired),” he said.

Rodolfo Singson, who owns 12 hectares of rice farm, blamed alleged government neglect for their plight. He said the last rice harvest he had was in 2013.

He said some farmers had been forced to stop sending their children to school.

Edulantes said farmers in Barangay Southern Davao will meet on September 2 to plan their next steps.

According to data from Department of Agriculture-XI, rice sufficiency of the region stood at 52 percent, short of its target of 58 percent.

Rice production in the region in 2014 was at 300,630 metric tons while the demand for the same year was estimated at 522,321 MT. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)