Pantabangan Dam. Contributed photo
CABANATUAN CITY – Farmers from Nueva Ecija and some adjoining areas were enjoined to abide by the planting calendar set by authorities even as the National Irrigation Administration initially utilized impounded water from the local dams to pave the way for the dry season cropping, a ranking official said on Friday.
Engineer Rosalinda B. Bote, department manager of NIA-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System, said they have initially released 45 cubic meter per second this week while local dams Atate in Palayan City and Peñaranda in Peñaranda town have started dry crop service on Nov. 16.
“So far, mayroon na kaming irrigated na 11,300 hectares out of 129,000 hectares na programmed for dry season,” Bote said.
The water level of Pantabagan Dam was at 209.30 meters as of Thursday, the records showed. This should be at least 210 meters, Bote said while expressing hope for more rains based on the forecast of the state weather bureau PAGASA.
“We are very positive din na madaragdagan yung ating irrigated area,” she said, noting that the agency programmed only 92,000 hectares but had actually expanded to 142,000 hectares.
In addition, the newly built Upper Tabuating Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Gen. Tinio town has also been supplying irrigation water to 700 hectares of farm fields. Having impounded enough water during rainy days, it also enabled local farmers to plant early, Bote added.
The agency issued to farmers an advisory on its dry cropping calendar as early as September to make sure that water is efficiently used and plants are properly irrigated.
But on top of its traditional role to provide irrigation to rice fields, UPRIIS introduced a “Gulayamanan Program” where farmers in areas that will not be covered by its programmed areas in a particular period are being assisted to venture into vegetable farming as an alternative to palay.
“Meron tayong mga alternative na diversified crops,” she said. “This has been proven productive and beneficial in many areas withing the UPRIIS service areas.”
“Actually ang atin namang mga magsasaka sa Nueva Ecija, lalo na yung nasasakupan ng UPRIIS at mga irrigators’ associations ay aware naman dun sa alternate wetting and drying o ito yung water-saving technique at yun nga ang mga procedure nila kung paano nila matitipid ang tubig,” Bote explained.