2018-06-24 16:53:00 (UTC+08:00)
By Ernie B.Esconde
Manila Times, July 14, 2004
Without adequate irrigation, all rice production programs will be put to waste. In answer to lack of irrigation dams, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos distributed surplus waterpumps with engines bought through the war reparation payments of the Japanese government. Some government bureaucrat may insist that "no, only a few hectares are left unirrigated." But this just shows that they do not really know what they are talking about and that they have no grasp of the real need of farmers.
The irrigation of ricefield is supposed to be the responsibility of the government, so that the country can be assured that there will be enough rice. But it should not be enough to increase rice production while rice producers themselves are taken for granted.
The government should see to it that farmers increase their production and that the costs of production are lessened. Farming is a business and its income statement must not always reflect a “loss.”
Farming has to be an income-generating endeavor for it has been the only means of livelihood for many years by millions of Filipinos. But how can it be a profitable trade when one of the most simple and basic needs, irrigation, is still not properly addressed to?
In the town of Samal, Bataan, for example, many farmers are tied up to expensive diesel-fed waterpumps to irrigate their ricefield. Thus, a sizable part of their harvest goes to irrigation expenses.
The government has been talking of agriculture modernization, but where is it? They cannot even develop impounding areas for rainwater. That is why rivers and creeks are already dry after three sunny days although it rained everyday for a week before that. Water given free by nature just goes rushing to the sea. Do we still have no technology to impound rain water?
Without adequate irrigation, all rice production programs will be put to waste. In answer to lack of irrigation dams, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos distributed surplus waterpumps with engines bought through the war reparation payments of the Japanese government.
These big and heavy surplus engines were used by many farmers for many years. These were later replaced by small and lighter engines to operate waterpumps that now dot many ricefield, some only 100 meters away from each other.
With the ever-rising prices of diesel and oil and engine parts, the cost for maintenance of these pumps drain a big portion of the harvest of farmers that should have served as income for rice growers.
In the presence of some dams, rivers are silted and there are not enough canals constructed for water from the dams to go straight to the fields. A multimillion peso dam, for example, that should have served a bigger area is limited to only a few hectares due to silted rivers and creeks and the absence of canals and dikes.
Millions of pesos are spent for the construction of a dam but a few hundred thousand pesos more seems to be very hard to get to fund the construction of canals and clear the rivers. For an answer, your guess is good as mine, perhaps.