JENNIFER A. NG
THE government will build a P71-million reservoir and irrigation dam in Itbayat, Batanes, to help make the area self-sufficient in rice by 2014.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agency the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the construction of the Itbayat Integrated Agriculture Development Project is set to be completed by 2013.
In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the project will increase 10-fold the present rainfed area from the current 33 hectares to over 300 hectares, and enable Itbayat farmers to plant two crops of palay every year.
Originally, the project only had an allocation of P11 million, but Alcala had instructed the NIA to revise the project and expand it after surveying the area.
With relatively more flatlands, Itbayat has been Batanes’s main rice producer, with some 33 hectares planted to palay, producing a measly 20 to 40 cavans (1 to 2 tons) per hectare. With a population of 16,000, such harvest is obviously not enough for the entire province, said Alcala.
With the construction and completion of a bigger reservoir, with the dam measuring 18 to 20 meters high, the DA said the irrigated area will cover more than 300 hectares, which could be planted twice a year. The reservoir could hold about 230,000 cubic meters of water, enough to irrigate 2 two palay crops annually.
Also, the DA will provide Itbayat farmers technical assistance and quality rice seeds to enable them to double their average palay harvest to 3 to 4 tons per hectare. At 2 croppings a year, the 300-hectare area could produce a minimum of 1,800 metric tons annually.
Alcala assured the support of other attached agencies of the DA, including the Philippine Rice Research Institute, the National Food Authority and the Land Bank of the Philippines to enable Batanes to attain self-sufficiency in rice.
Alcala handed over P2 million worth of farm equipment, projects and farm inputs to the provincial and municipal governments, consisting of a four-wheel tractor, small-scale irrigation systems, sprayers, cultivators, Ph meters, greenhouses, planting materials and assorted vegetable seeds.
He also committed P1 million to bankroll a livelihood project for rural women who will engage in the production of breadfruit, guava, and cashew, among other ptoducts.
Monday, 13 June 2011
JENNIFER A. NG