MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/18 June) – Valencia City, dubbed the “City of Golden Harvest” is buying 10 units of water pumps for temporary irrigation to mitigate the effects of the continuing drought on rice farms in the area, Gerson Salvan, city agriculture officer, yesterday said.
Salvan said his office has requested the P1-million project as an initial response to the difficulties encountered by farmers at the height of the El Niño phenomenon.
As of April, the dry spell had devastated at least 300 hectares of rice and corn farms in six of the city’s 31 barangays.
The barangays affected are Catumbalon, Maapag, Pinatilan, Mabuhay, Bagonta-as, and Tongantongan.
Salvan described the six barangays as away from irrigation canals, adding they could use the water pumps.
He told MindaNews the water pumps will be used in mobile irrigation service to be administered by the City Agriculture Office. As of this week, he said, the City General Services Office is already preparing the requirements for the purchase of the pumps.
He said they are not taking chances especially for future El Nino conditions. But he said the 10 units are not enough to make up for the water needs of Valencia’s farmlands.
He said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has projected a return to normal rainfall by June, which is not happening yet.
He said El Nino is not solely to blame for the damage to crops, adding the bigger problem is the deteriorating condition of irrigation canals run by the National Irrigation Administration.
Salvan said government should pay attention to the badly maintained irrigation canals, which causes poor distribution of water in the farmlands.
He said so much water is lost due to the poor irrigation system with canals lined only with soil and makeshift materials. The steel gates of the canals, too, are busted, he noted.
He said providing mobile water pumps is only a palliative solution.
“The local government must invest in helping NIA maintain the canals, that’s part of the long-term solution.” he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)