URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan – The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has drafted contingency measures to mitigate the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon in the farmlands in the Ilocos Region.
NIA Ilocos acting Regional Manager Danilo Gomez said the regional office has initiated three measures such as adjusting the cropping calendar, direct seeding, and shifting to other high-value crops which require less water like corn, tobacco, mungbean, and peanuts.
Gomez said their first step was to adjust the cropping calendar as early as April in discussion with the farmers.
“At the moment, yong program area namin ay 91 percent irrigated. Hopefully, nitong July ay matatapos na yong transplanting. Ang harvest ay mula October hanggang November. Yong sa second crop, don na talaga natin ipo-focus yong mitigation sa El Niño kasi magse-set in ang El Niño sa last quarter ng 2023 (At the moment, our program area is 91 percent irrigated. Hopefully, the transplanting would be finished by July. The harvest will be from October to November. We will focus the mitigation against El Niño in the second cropping as the phenomenon will set in by the last quarter of 2023),” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Gomez said that they recommended direct seeding of rice so there will no need for transplanting as well as the shift to other high-value crops.
Nonetheless, he said it is expected that rice production will suffer by about 50 percent during the dry season.
The NIA official said they are also considering using fire trucks to ration water to irrigation canals as one of the resorts to mitigate the dry spell.
“Kung kinakailangan mag-hire tayo ng fire trucks para para mailagay lang yong tubig sa kanal, gagawin natin .At yong mga nandiyan na water pumps na ipinamigay sa mga irrigators’ associations, pwede nating gamitin para ma-achieve ang zero stress (If there will be a need to hire fire trucks to transfer water into the irrigation canals, we will do that. And the water pumps will be distributed to the irrigators’ associations, which they could use to achieve zero stress),” he said.
Gomez was the former division manager of La Union Irrigation Management Office (LUIMO) who took his oath for his new assignment on Wednesday
NIA Senior Deputy Administrator Robert Suguitan, during the turn-over ceremony, said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s marching order was zero stress in irrigation.
“Sa Region 1, dapat zero stress in irrigation services. Wala dapat ma-stress na taniman (In Ilocos Region, it should be zero stress in irrigation services. There shouldn’t be stress in the farmlands). The message has been relayed to your Irrigation Management Office (IMOs) division managers. Let's do the best that we can within our means,” he said. (PNA)