Saturday, February 11, 2012

Re-regulating pond seen to improve farmers’ lot

By Mortz C. Ortigoza The president of a regional farmer’s organization said the multibillion- peso re-regulating pond (RRP) in San Manuel town would finally change the economic status of the farmers in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac. Oftociano M. Manalo explained that with the water from the mammoth P4.5 billion, 85-hectare- ponds to the various irrigation and lateral canals in the three provinces, farmers could harvest five times in two years. Many farmers in the three provinces used to harvestonly once a year as they depend on the rainy season. Manalo said that the prospect of a harvest of three times a year is not feasible because the lands they till need some “rest”. “It needs four months to plant and harvest a palay. With a thrice a year harvest, the soil could be prejudiced,” Manalo said. Manalo said the pond would irrigate between 40,000 to 50,000 farm hectares in the three provinces. Pangasinan farmers till an average of one hectare. Manalo said a farmer spends an average of P40 thousand a hectare to get an average of a gross revenues of P62 thousand or a net profit of P22 thousand in four months or an averaged of P5 thousand a month. With the RRP, the farmer’s average harvest of 2.5 a year can give him P12, 500 a month -- a 150 percent increase. “At present, the re-regulating pond is more than 90 percent done. The Chinese engineers who supervise the constructions are very efficient that they could finish the project earlier than the stipulated target date,” Manalo said. Manalo explained that the 85-hectare re-regulating pond was conceived three years ago as an impoundment of water that egress from the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam (SRMPD). He said the pond compliments the irrigation component of the SRMPD which gives the farms a year-round water supply to irrigate their palay, root-crops, and vegetables. Manalo disclosed that without the pond, SRMPD can not be relied on as it concentrates on prudently releasing the water for its power component that it sells to households in Luzon. According to Eng. Reynaldo Mencias, project manager of the Agno River Integration Irrigation Program (ARIIP), the huge pond funded by a soft loan from China Export-Import Bank would irrigate 34,450 hectares of farmlands. Former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said before that 26,850 hectares of beneficiary lands are located in Pangasinan. They are the towns of Mapandan, Malasiqui, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao, Mangaldan, Manaoag, Laoac, Binalonan, Villasis, Asingan, San Manuel, and the city of Urdaneta all under the auspices of Agno River Irrigation System, and another 7,600 hectares of land in the towns of Natividad, San Nicolas, San Quintin, Sta. Maria, Tayug, and Balungao under the watch of Ambayoan-Dipalo River Irrigation System. An addition of P7.5 billion was appropriated in 2009 up to 2013 for the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation and lateral canals to irrigate those 18towns inPangasinan. Meanwhile, the Pangasinan Federation of Irrigators Association has elected Manalo unopposed in February 6 this year. Manalo represents the Communal Irrigators in the province. He will be pitted with the elected president of the National Irrigation Association in Pangasinan for the Region-1 Confederation of Irrigators that he heads at present.

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