BULA, CAMARINES SUR — The Department of Agriculture in Bicol recently turned over two irrigation projects worth a total of P32 million to boost the rice production of farmers in this municipality.

Held on August 27, 2020 but on two separate ceremonies and venues, DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla led the turn-over ceremonies of two Small Water Impounding Projects (SWIP) to the Pagsisikap Farmers’ Association in Brgy. Panoypoyan and the Pecuaria Development Cooperative in Brgy. Lanipga. Each SWIP costs P16 million and was funded under the 2019 Rice Program.

The Panoypoyan SWIP is designed to irrigate 60 to 70 hectares of rice area with a capacity of 85 liters per second or 0.085 cubic meter per second. Currently, it has an irrigated service area of 12 to 15 hectares out of the association’s 73-hectare service area. With a 390-linear meter canal, the SWIP will benefit 63 regular members of the Pagsisikap Farmers’ Association.

Meanwhile, the Pecuaria SWIP has a capacity of 60 liter per second or 0.06 cubic meter per second and can irrigate 40 to 50 hectares of farm lands. It has now an irrigated service area of 30 hectares out of the 120 hectares service area covered by the association. The irrigation project is projected to benefit 426 regular members of the Pecuaria Development Cooperative, majority of which are engaged in organic rice farming.

A SWIP is a structure, established across a narrow depression or valley which can collect and store rainfall and run-off during rainy season for immediate and future use. Engr. Jerry A. Eboña, head of the DA-Bicol Regional Agricultural Engineering Division (RAED) Engineering Plans, Designs and Specifications Section, enumerated several advantages of SWIP aside from its irrigation function. He mentioned that SWIP helps in soil and water conservation, can be a source of water for livestock, can help prevent flooding and soil erosion, supports groundwater recharge and can serve as an agri-tourism area in the community.

In both ceremonies, Tornilla thanked the associations for giving the DA-Bicol the opportunity to showcase its irrigation technology.

“Maski po anong pirit mi na magdara ning mga programa digdi saindo kung kamo dae ma-respond, dae ma-cooperate samuya, mayo po kaming magiginibo. Dyan pa lang dakula na ang pasasalamat mi saindo,” Tornilla said.

He also reiterated that the irrigation projects are intended to support the DA Secretary’s vision of increasing farmers’ productivity and income expressed in the agency’s battlecry “Masagang Ani, Mataas na Kita.” Moreover, he challenged them to organize, process their registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and create farm clusters to avail of farm machineries and optimize the DA and other agencies’ assistance and interventions. Furthermore, he acknowledged the farmers’ sustained efforts to ease the threat of hunger amid the COVID-19 pandemic by providing continuous food supply as food security frontliners.

Jose Samillano Jr., president of Pagsisikap Farmers Association, said that the irrigation project will revive the rice farming activities of most of their members who stopped their farming activities due to lack of water supply since the Bula Water System Administration (BUWASA) began its operation.

“Sobrang mahalaga sa amin ang proyektong ito dahil kami po dito sa lugar na ito, wala naman po kaming ibang hanap-buhay kundi magsaka kaya lang ang problema, kung wala tayong tubig, kailangan na kailangan, hindi naman tayo makakapagsaka. Kaming lahat na benepisyaryo nito, sobra ang pagpapasalamat namin sainyo dahil kung noong araw wala kaming inaasahan at wala kaming sinasaka, ngayon mayroon na dahil po dito,” he enthused.

Pecuaria Development Cooperative General Manager Miller Bicaldo considers the SWIP as a big help in converting idle lands into rice lands saying “Itong Small Water Impounding Project na ito ay malaking tulong po sa amin ngayon kasi yung area na hindi naku-cultivate as rice land, puwede na po ma-cultivate. Sa ngayon nga, pagstart nitong tag-ulan, almost 10 hectares na kaagad ang nai-convert into rice lands, so malaking tulong po ito. Isa ito sa makakadagdag sa idinideliver naming bigas hindi lang dito sa Bicol region kundi pati na rin sa Metro Manila.”

Present during the turn-over ceremony in Brgy. Panoypoyan were Bula Municipal Agriculturist Judith Almoneda, Punong Baranggay Leny Parra of Brgy. Ombao Heights as well as members of the Pagsisikap Farmers’ Association while Baranggay Kagawad Dante D. Lagrimas and Brgy. Kagawad Belen Bicaldo attended the occasion in Brgy. Lanipga. DA RAED and Rice Program staff also attended the activity.

The DA-Bicol through the RAED will turn over two more SWIPs with an aggregate amount of P13 million to rice farmers in Brgy. Mayaopayawan in Milaor within the year. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credit: Eduardo D. Collantes Jr., DA RAFIS V