The 12,000 farmers in the towns of Cuyapo, Nampicuan, Talugtog and parts of Guimba in Nueva Ecija, even in parts of Anao, Tarlac are getting soon what they have long dreamed of – irrigation from the Pantabangan Dam.
Take the case of Nampicuan, a town adjacent to Anao, which is about 65 kilometers from the Pantabangan Dam.
Since its founding in the early 1900, the residents reeled under the impact of relying on rain water for the irrigation of their crop. Even when the Pantabangan Dam became operational in 1974, it did not benefit them.
Even when the augmented water of Pantabangan Dam through the Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP), the Nampicuan farmers could only look with dismay at irrigation supplied to nearby towns.
“Our town will finally get irrigation from the Pantabangan Dam,” Ubaldino Lacurom, municipal administrator and former mayor of this town, said. “We were told by Engr. (Alexander) Coloma that irrigation water will flow starting this year to our rice lands,” he added.
Coloma is project manager of the irrigation component of the CMIPP.
“Our town which is the smallest and the poorest in Nueva Ecija, is now expected to progress considerably because of this gift of a lifetime.
We can now have two croppings of rice in a year,” Lacurom said.
Nampicuan town with a population of 13,300 and 4,000 hectares of agricultural land has a 5th class classification. A visit to this town will show newly-constructed irrigation canals that are ready to convey irrigation from the dam.
Similar canals now crisscross or are being continuously built in the towns of Talugtog, Guimba, and Cuyapo which were left out since the CMIPP started providing irrigation in 2004.
Hope for the fast-tracking of the construction of the irrigation facilities for these towns buoyed up when the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approved the project with funding from a foreign bank. But the negotiations for the expected funding failed.
Happily, the Aquino administration allotted a total of P5.445 billion in the government’s budget in 2011 to be released on staggered basis yearly.
“The additional facilities left after completion of Phase 1 of the project will be fully completed in 2016,” Coloma said.
“It will irrigate a total of 20,321 hectares in the towns of Nampicuan, Talugtog, Cuyapo, the north western part of Guimba in Nueva Ecija and parts of Anao in Tarlac,” he added.
So far, out of the 20,321-hectare target areas, more than 11,000-hectare area is irrigation-ready.
The project, Coloma said, entails the completion of 22 kilometers of a super diversion canal (SDC) which is a continuation of the 29-kilometer SDC of Phase 1 of the project, 324 kilometers of lateral and sub-lateral canals, 346-kilometer service road and ten bridges.
Phase 1 of the project has been providing irrigation water to 16,879 hectares of land which used to be rain-fed areas.
They are in addition to the 100,000 hectares in the rest of the province serviced by the Pantabangan Dam.
In addition, it will improve about 40,000 hectares of the irrigation efficiencies of the existing irrigation facilities in Gapan City and parts of San Miguel and San Ildefonso towns in Bulacan.
“All in all, it will benefit a total of 36,900 farmer-beneficiaries for these new irrigation facilities,” Coloma said. “They are expected to achieve a big jump in a year without entailing much expense for their pumping underground water,” he added.