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Small-Scale Irrigation Systems

By Marcelo Dayo

WRMD Chronicles: Looking back at the division’s successful irrigation projects

irrigation pictures

The BSWM through the Water Resources Management Division (WRMD), is tasked with the development of water resources in the country for Small-Scale Irrigation Projects (SSIPs). These SSIPs refer to Small Water Impounding Projects (SWIP), Small Diversion Dam (SDD), Shallow Tube Wells (STW) and Small Farm Reservoir (SFR). From 2001 up to present, the BSWM in collaboration with other concerned agencies successfully constructed 114 units of SWIP and SDDs, and distributed 426 units of STWs. These SSIPs were able to provide supplemental irrigation to about 8,100 hectares of rainfed rice-based area that benefited more than 5,500 farmers.

The positive impacts of the SSIPs, particularly SWIP, are: it provides supplemental irrigation; serves other incidental functions such as flood control structures; and caters other economic uses such as for fishery and livestock production. As such, huge number of requests from several interest groups such as Local Government Units (LGUs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Farmers’ Associations and even individual farmers are demanding to have these small water impounding facilities. Moreover, these SSIPs are being recognized by the DA and other national agencies e.g. DAR, DENR, as one of the appropriate measures to uplift the living conditions of marginal upland farmers. Currently, SWIPs and other SSIPs are considered one of the adaptation measures to cope up with the adverse impact of extreme climate events such as floods or droughts.

For better appreciation of the beneficial contributions of these SSIPs, WRMD looked back at its four representative projects.

Looc Diversion Dams
Looc, Romblon

Under the “Hunger Mitigation Program” of the Department of Agriculture in 2008, the Municipality of Looc requested for the construction and improvement of irrigation systems in their seven barangays. During that time, the condition of their existing irrigation structures in these barangays, particularly canals, are not efficient and some are not being utilized by the farmers due to siltation and damages. Similarly, there is a need for the construction of a small diversion dam to hold and store the flow from the upstream to irrigate the adjacent sloping rain fed rice farms. This is the only source of water that they thought could be tapped for their supplemental irrigation needs.

The request of the Looc municipality was granted due to the potential benefits the poor rain fed farmers would get from it. Hence, the construction of these irrigation facilities was undertaken immediately through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Municipal Government, Department of Agriculture-Region 4B and BSWM. This is one of the projects of BSWM that is worth mentioning for its timely and proper implementation. The sincerity and commitment of the LGU in pursuing this irrigation project paved the way for the realization of improving the socio-economic condition of the farmers.

Currently, these irrigation facilities irrigate about 80 hectares of rice field, and benefiting more than 100 farmer-households. With the improvement of irrigation structures, two (2) croppings of rice a year with sustained irrigation water supply is assured.

The project also gave opportunity for the farmers to capacitate themselves through trainings conducted by BSWM, DA-RFU and LGU on the new available rice production technologies as well as on soil and water conservation. Application and adoption of these new knowledge and skills enabled them to increase their farm productivity and income without wasting water in the field. More important, through the basic leadership skills training they attended, their cohesiveness as one entity was strengthened, and hence conflict on the use of common water resource was prevented.

The farmers also learn to appreciate and value the importance of good watershed cover, and judicious use of scarce soil and water resources. The projects provided chain of benefits not only for the farmers but to the community as well. Through intensified cropping, farm job opportunity was created, rice and other food became more available for each household, and urban migration was minimized.

With the continued supervision and support from BSWM and commitment from the LGU, these projects will definitely provide a sustained producti- vity and success for the farmer benefi-ciaries and to the community as a whole.

San Jose SWIP
San Jose, Mabini, Bohol

irrigation pictures
Dam embankment and pond area of San Jose SWIP

Barangay San Jose in Mabini, Bohol is the place where 29 school children died because of cassava poisoning in 2005. It was also once known as haven for NPA rebels. In other words, the area is really economically disadvantaged, associated with death risk due to unsafe and very poor living condition.

As far as agriculture is concern, the area is known for its low productivity considering its rain fed condition as well as relatively poor soils due to erosion. According to the present Barangay Captain, their barangay have been requesting for the construction SWIP since 1980’s. Now, that they have realized their long-time wish, they can’t help but wear a smile and reminisce how they struggle to have this project. This is now considered as one of the legacies of the old folks in the area.

The SWIP was constructed under the 2008 GMA Rice and Corn Program. The implementation was done by private contractor through competitive bidding. The construction started in June 2009 and to be completed after eight months. However, due to some valid reasons such as unfavorable weather condition, the completion period was delayed up to this month (March 2010). Even with the delay of the construction, this project can be considered as one of the best SWIPs ever built.

With the construction of the project, people in this barangay became very enthusiastic as they look forward to improve their living condition. They stressed that they have been waiting for so long for this opportunity. Accordingly, they have been deprived of any development efforts from the government for quite some time. At present, the main dam and reservoir of the SWIP is already operational. In fact, the reservoir already harvested and stored rainfall up to maximum level when rainfall occurred in January this year.

The project, except for the construction of a concrete flume, is now ready to serve 50 hectares of rain fed rice field for 2 crops in a year. More than 100 farmers will directly benefit from irrigation. Among the economic and environmental benefits that the project may provide are: Increased farm labor employment, more intensive cropping system (2-3 croppings a year), increased farm area, increased yield, fish culture production (fingerlings and growing), recreation, revitalized/Improved hydro-ecology and vegetation of the watershed, and limited and controlled effect of flooding.

Bongdo SD
Bongdo, San Benito, Surigao del Norte

irrigation pictures
WRMD staff inspect the STW at Bongdo in Surigao del Norte.

San Benito is a small town in a remote island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte, where local people are merely dependent on copra production and fishing activities. Though they have small area for rice and vegetable production, they do not have irrigation facilities to sustain the production of these two important crops. They also do not have financial capabilities and knowledge to raise these crops with available limited resources.

Cognizant of their deficiencies with regard to water supply, the LGU requested the BSWM for technical and financial assistance on the establishment of a water resource development project that would harness and store the water from the spring for irrigation of palay and vegetables. After careful assessment of the needs of the barangay, the BSWM granted the development of their spring through the GMA Rice Program of the DA. In 2008, a concrete elevated water tank equipped with water pump and pipe distribution lines were installed to irrigate about 20 hectares of rice and vegetable production area. From a usual single cropping of rice a year, the farmers were able to have two croppings of rice plus vegetables in a year. These benefits are in the form of an average of about 3.5 tons of harvested palay per season plus the production of vegetables that are sufficient for household consumption and surplus to be put on the market. The additional income was used for the school expenses of their children.

Similar to other projects, this also provided a chain of benefits starting from the farmer-households who are the direct beneficiaries of the project extending to the community and neighboring barangays through creation of farm jobs and other employment, increased supply of rice and vegetables at a lower price and reduced migration to urban areas. It also strengthened the cooperation and unit of the people as they need to communally manage the project.

Through the project, the Bongdo Farmers Association was organized for the effective and sustained operation and maintenance of the project’s facility. Several trainings are in line that will capacitate the farmers and the community.

Andarayan SWIP
Rizal, Kalinga

irrigation pictures
Pond area on top and service area below

From mere idle grassland and a food-starving community, Barangay Andarayan became a fish and a sufficient rice-producing community. This is how the construction of Andarayan SWIP changed the land use and the lives of the native villagers in one of the remote places in the Municipality of Rizal, Kalinga.

Prior to construction of Andarayan SWIP in 2001, the area was idle grass land with limited area for corn and vegetable production. This type of farming provides meager source of income and food for the community. With the project, about 100 hectares of this idle land became irrigated rice land with assured two (2) cropping per year. Parallel with the project establishment was the introduction of rice and other crops’ production technologies. Through the adoption of these high yielding technologies, four tons of palay per hectare on each cropping was achieved in the area. Further, this project has enabled the community to produce fish particularly tilapia in the huge pond area of the SWIP. This fish production provided the households in the community a protein-rich food that is readily available.

Farmers from neighboring barangays became interested to have similar project with Andaraya as they witnessed the transformation of Andaraya villagers; living from shanty huts to a semi-concrete houses. “Kung nuon daw ang taga Andaraya, low quality corn grits lang ang kinakain, ngayon good quality rice na with matching tilapia pa.” Also, they were able to acquire farm tractor, thresher and ‘kuliglig’ from other DA agencies to further improve their farming practices.

The WRMD can proudly say that through our SWIP, we were able to make a difference in the lives of our upland marginalized farmers.

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