Low water in NE dams to lower palay output

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    CABANATUAN CITY – Due to the low water supply from the dams in Nueva Ecija, particularly that in the Pantabangan Dam reservoir, the province and parts of Bulacan and Pampanga will experience low total production output this coming dry season cropping.

    The areas serviced last “palagad” (dry season) planting will be drastically reduced due to the low irrigation supply.

    “We need some more hard rains to augment the low water level at Pantabangan Dam and at the other smaller dams in our province to supply the needs of at least 123,000 hectares,” Engr. Florentino David, manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS), said.

    “As of now, only about 91,000 hectares can be serviced by our dams,” he added. Quoting a report from his operations manager Alvin Manuel, he said the water level at Pantabangan Dam as of Wednesday was only 201.55 meter above sea level (msl). He said the rule curve (desired level) should be 207 msl in order to serve the needs of the number of hectares serviced last dry season in this province and parts of Bulacan and Pampanga.

    “That’s about 32,000 hectares unserviceable by irrigation this year,” David said.

    Rains brought by Typhoon Ramil last week added only about two meters of water elevation at the Pantabangan Dam’s 8,000-hectare reservoir, Manuel said in his report. At that rate, at least three more “Ramil’s rain effects” are silently prayed for to come in this province from now until December, he added.

    The dry season cropping of rice is usually expected with high hopes of better rice yield by the farmers compared to the wet season cropping.

    Some farmers achieved yields of 250 to 300 cavans per hectare using hybrid rice seeds during the dry season cropping.

    Last year, Edgardo Marcelo of Guimba, Nueva Ecija, who used hybrid rice seed and a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers, harvested 297 bags of 60 kilograms of palay in one hectare.

    On the average, however, the farmers who used either hybrid or inbred seeds obtained last year 150 cavans per hectare yield, according to Evelyn Santos, rice program coordinator in Nueva Ecija.

    With that average, the 32,000-hectare unserviceable irrigation areas in Nueva Ecija and parts of Bulacan and Pampanga may loss about 4.8 million cavans of palay yield this cropping season.

    David said his office will distribute an announcement to the officials of the local government units in the province, agriculture officials and the farmers regarding the available water for irrigation this dry cropping season and the areas which may not be serviced by the Pantabangan Dam and the other smaller dams.

    The announcement, he added, can served as basis for instituting contingency measures for production of crops which do not need much irrigation.

    Pantabangan Dam is set to release water starting December 4 for its intended service area this cropping season, David said.

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