Farmers ask gov’t to bare El Niño action plan to address irrigation water shortage

By Nuel M. Bacarra

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government’s El Niño Task Force to lay down concrete plans to address irrigation problems farmers are starting to face since the weather phenomenon started.

According to the farmers’ group, many provinces in Luzon are likely to experience dry spells, Mindanao will experience dry conditions, while Camarines Norte and Southern Leyte provinces will be vulnerable to drought.

“We have been warned. El Niño is here and we must prepare for more extreme heat in the coming months. An El Niño episode typically lasts for 9 to 12 months,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement.

“We want to know NIA’s concrete plans on how to help farmers cope with El Niño and how to ensure the availability of rice and food crops despite extreme weather events,” Ramos said.

KMP proposed to NIA to immediately implement plans for effective use and management of water resources, restoration of irrigation systems and construction of climate-resilient irrigation systems and facilities.

“Kayang mapababa ng mula 20 hanggang 30 porsyento ang paggamit ng tubig sa mga sakahan ng palay basta epektibo at mahusay ang pag-manage ng NIA ng tubig. Hindi kailangang alisan o bawasan ng tubig para sa irigasyon ng mga magsasaka natin sa Pampanga at Bulacan,” KMP chairman emeritus Rafael Mariano said.

(Water consumption for farmlands can be reduced by 20% to 30% if NIA will effectively and properly manage water supply. Water requirements for irrigation for Pampanga and Bulacan’s farmers should not be not be stopped nor reduced).

KMP asked the government to bare complete details and information of its plans to solve the irrigation water shortage because of El Niño. It will seek an urgent dialogue with DA and NIA officials to discuss mitigation efforts.

The National Water Resources Board has started reduction of water supply for irrigation and domestic use purposes from Norzagaray, Bulacan’s Angat Dam since last month.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Hydromet Division reported the water level at Angat Dam has already dropped below its normal operating level of 180 meters to 179.23 meters.

Angat Dam irrigates around 85,000 hectares of farmlands in Central Luzon and is the main supplier of water to Metro Manila.

Domestic use over irrigation

Meanwhile, an official of the National economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has assured the Filipino people that President Marcos is already taking measures to lessen the possible negative impacts of El Niño in the country.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said that the worst effects of El Niño will be felt early next year.

Edillon also cited that irrigation water should be reduced in favor of residential use to help ease the effects of the phenomenon among Metro Manila residents.

The official said the rice planting season is over anyway.

PAGASA has officially declared on July 4 the start of El Niño in the country and has also predicted an 80% probability that the country will be under the weather phenomenon until the first quarter of 2024.

The country will possibly experience below normal rainfall conditions and temperature spikes, PAGASA said. #