FILIPINO farmers plagued by poor harvests because of inconsistent irrigation may soon have more than 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems they need once House Bill 3539, authored by Deputy Speaker Sharon S. Garin, is passed.
Pending before the House Committee on Natural Resources, HB 3539 or the proposed Soil and Water Conservation Act seeks to establish at least 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems and a thousand soil and water conversion guided farms across the country.
These farm support systems are meant to save water and mitigate the destructive power of heavy rain and flash floods to farms.
“So instead of the farmers fearing heavy rains engulfing their farmlands, farmers will begin to take advantage of the massive adequate rainwater harvesting facilities to collect water which will be used to sustain production even during a dry spell,” Garin said in a statement dated November 23.
State-weather bureau PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) says the Philippines has an average annual rainfall of 2,400 millimeters, or more than enough to meet the demand for crop production.
“However, this amount of rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year in most parts of the country. There is too much rainfall in some areas resulting to severe soil erosion and flooding; while in other parts of the country, there is too little rain to support crop production especially during summer,” according to Jose Manguera, section chief of Conservation Technology Development Section under the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).
Funding fo r the project, once the bill becomes law, will come from the budget of the Department of Agriculture.
BSWM supports the passage of the bill, saying that most watersheds across the nation are already deteriorating due to indiscriminate logging and slash-and-burn (kaingin) practices.