June 20, 2024

The National Irrigation Administration-Cordillera said the farmers being serviced by its irrigation systems have sufficient water supply in the midst of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Vanessa Rose Meana of the NIA-CAR Engineering and Operation Division said despite the decreased level in some water sources, it is still enough to supply the needs of the farmlands in the region. 

Based on the January to February 2023 and 2024 comparison data of the NIA-CAR, the water flow on the four national irrigation systems has decreased, notably of Upper Chico River Irrigation System (Ucris) and West Apayao Abulug Irrigation System (WAAIS), by almost 40 to 50 percent, while Hapid Irrigation System (Hapid IS) and Abra River Irrigation System (ARIS) have generally maintained its water flow.

Despite this, Meana said the required stream flow or the volume of water from the rivers is still sufficient to supply the four national irrigation systems. 

“The recent rains also helped in increasing the levels in the water sources of the various irrigation systems,” Meana said.

This would be enough to supply the 2,849 hectares of farmlands vulnerable to El Niño, which are being monitored by NIA-CAR. 

The NIA also coordinated with the Department of Agriculture in providing 39 units of water pumps to the various irrigator’s associations in Abra with 18 units, Apayao with 12, Ifugao with three, and Kalinga with 16 units, to be used in case of water shortage. 

The rotational scheme for water delivery is also being implemented, as well as the conduct of desilting activities at the main canal to mitigate the effects of El Niño. 

In Apayao, the irrigator’s association in WAAIS implemented a cut-off period on March 27 for the dry season cropping, where farmers target to harvest by April.

The dry season cropping starts from January to May of the year, while wet season cropping starts from June to October. Most of the areas supplied by NIA’s irrigation systems are rice and corn farms, but there are also farms with high-value crops especially in Benguet. 

Meana said it would be up to the various irrigator’s associations to schedule the cut-off period of the irrigation system during the dry or wet cropping periods.

In between the cropping periods, she said the NIA conducts its maintenance works on the irrigation systems. She said the agency is conducting continuous monitoring to mitigate the effects of El Niño.

In the Cordillera, there are four national irrigation systems (NIS), namely Ucris, which supplies Kalinga and Isabela; WAAIS, supplying Apayao and Cagayan; Hapid IS supplying Ifugao; and ARIS, supplying Abra, supplying 59 irrigator’s associations.

There are also the smaller communal irrigation systems scattered in the various provinces of the region, supplying 1,449 irrigator’s associations. The combined national and CIS supply 84,217 hectares of farmlands in the region and nearby provinces which benefits 133,000 farmers.  

There are a total of 1,779 irrigator’s associations being serviced by NIA with 130,062 actual farmer members in the region and nearby provinces. – Ofelia C. Empian