• Central Luzon farmers survive El Niño wrath


    CENTRAL Luzon farms have survived El Niño with the government’s irrigation facilities, saying they are ready for the regular rice wet cropping season starting June 1.

    The Pantabangan Dam recorded its water level at 192 meters as of last week, equivalent to 40,475 cubic meters and capable of supplying around 542.45 cubic meters in Central Luzon farms.

    “We did not release [water]because we are reserving the stored water for the next dry season cropping by October-November,” Crisanto Castillo, chief of the National Irrigation Administration Dam Division said.

    Castillo explained that during the normal high water level of 221 meters, with an estimated 2,093.25 cubic-meter volume, the farm area that can be irrigated is 136,513.86 hectares. When the water reaches 216 meters, the volume is 1,763.38 cubic meters, and the area irrigated is 15,000 hectares – when needed, Castillo pointed out.

    Pantabangan can release some 542.45 cubic meters of irrigation water to the programmed 40,476 hectares of rice land in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Bulacan during the rice cropping season starting this June.

    Meanwhile, the Casecnan Dam also helped much in assuring Central Luzon of steady irrigation water despite the El Niño phenomenon.

    Alexander Coloma, chief of the NIA-Casecnan Irrigation Multi-Purpose and Irrigation Project (NIA-CMIPP) said various projects to augment the irrigation capability in Central Luzon were about to be completed this year.

    He cited as support to the present facilities the newly constructed irrigation project in Calisitan, Nueva Ecija that is expected to irrigate an additional 136,000 hectares of farmland to ease the impact of the drought.

    Department of Agriculture (DA) Central Luzon director Andrew Villacorta also reported that farmers planted before the traditional cropping calendar of July to August last year as a preemptive measure to the possible effect of the El Niño in the region.

    He told The Manila Times that farmers in the region could plant rice early for the wet season starting June 1-15 this year. Besides, the Angat Dam released irrigation water to some 40,000 hectares of farmland in Bulacan and Pampanga. He also reported that 500 hectares were affected by drought in Candaba, but it is an isolated case for singit tanim (in between farming), he said.


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