DA: 740-km improved irrigation canals to ease El Niño impact

Photo courtesy of National Irrigation Administration

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the about 740 kilometers of irrigation canals improved and upgraded recently will help ease the impact of El Niño on farmers in 2024.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel Jr. said DA targets to rehabilitate some 843 kilometers of irrigation canals to distribute water more effectively and efficiently to farmlands, even as 40 small-scale irrigation systems covering 1,477.5 hectares have also been repaired.

“We are leaving no stones unturned in our effort to ease the impact of El Niño on our farmers and fishermen as well as consumers by ensuring food production is sufficient and supply is secure during the expected dry spell that could affect a majority of provinces and millions who depend on agriculture and fisheries,” Tiu-Laurel said in a news release.

He said the Inter-agency Task for El Niño, has also programmed other strategies including cloud-seeding, dispersal of farm animals and provision of alternative livelihoods to farmers and fishermen, implementation of low-water-use technology for rice farming, and quick-turnaround strategy.

The DA Bureau of Soil and Water Management has requested a total P112 million for cloud-seeding operations for 2024 to supplement the water requirement of standing crops during the periods of low rainfall. Cloud-seeding operations will be implemented in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of National Defense.

Laurel said the DA will entice more rice farmers to use alternative wetting and drying technology to save water. The technology, he said has been successfully used by over 1.2 million farmers and implemented on 9,210 hectares of rice fields.

About 17,660 hectares of rice fields have been targeted for the implementation of the quick-turnaround strategy, wherein all rice farmers will immediately replant rice without waiting for months to take advantage of the remaining moisture in the soil.

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. has been tasked to indemnify affected farmers, and between June and November this year has insured 1.27 million farmers, around 76 percent of the target group.

It has set aside P1.8 billion to insure a total of 916,759 farmers and fishermen between January and June next year.