ABOUT 17,000 hectares of farmland in Nueva Ecija, the country’s top rice producer, are at risk due to unrepaired major diversion canals that were damaged by an earthquake in 2019, according to an irrigator’s association official.
In a forum on Wednesday, National Confederation of Irrigators Association Board Member Dante Lazatin said at least P1.5 billion is needed for the repair works.
“The (canals) cannot load 60 cms (cubic meters per second) because it’s broken, we cannot catch up. We can only reach a maximum of 43 cms,” he said
Mr. Lazatin said that about 70,000 hectares of agricultural land in Nueva Ecija depend on irrigation from the canals, with the supply coming from the Pantabangan Dam.
He noted that then-House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco provided P248 million for the rehabilitation of some of the canals.
“We still have 20 kilometers… If we have this repaired, we can irrigate and no rice will be withered,” he said.
Mr. Lazatin said they are applying the alternative wetting and drying method, a water saving technology, in order to continue irrigating.
“There are many existing canals, many existing creeks that may be restored. What (President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.) ran after, rice self-sufficiency, we can attain as long we pay attention to our SWIP (small water impounding project),” he added.
The National Irrigation Administration did not immediately respond to BusinessWorld’s request for comment. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera