The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) urged Nueva Ecija farmers and several adjoining areas to follow the planting calendar set by authorities to ensure efficient water use from dams for proper irrigation.
Engineer Rosalinda B. Bote, department manager of NIA-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS), said on Friday the agency has issued an advisory to farmers on its dry cropping calendar as early as September.
To irrigate the farm, NIA initially utilized impounded water from the local dams to pave the way for the dry season cropping from November to April.
Bote said they have initially released 45 cubic meters per second this week while local dams in Palayan City and Peñaranda town, both in Nueva Ecija, have started dry crop service on Nov. 16.
“So far ay mayroon na kaming irrigated na (So far, we already have irrigated) 11,300 hectares out of 129,000 hectares programmed for the dry season,” Bote said in an interview.
The water level of Pantabangan Dam was at 209.30 meters as of Dec. 2, which is 11.49 meters below the 220.79 meters operating rule curve, the records showed.
Bote said they still hope for more rains based on the forecast of the state weather bureau.
“We are very positive din na madaragdagan yung ating irrigated area (that there will be more irrigated areas),” she said, noting that the agency programmed only 92,000 hectares but had expanded to 142,000 hectares.
In addition, the newly built Upper Tabuating Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in General Tinio town in this province has also been supplying irrigation water to 700 hectares of farm fields.
“Having impounded enough water during rainy days, it also enabled local farmers to plant early,” Bote added.
On top of its traditional role to provide irrigation to rice fields, NIA-UPRIIS has introduced a “Gulayamanan program” with farmers being assisted to venture into vegetable farming as an alternative to palay during the dry season.
“Meron tayong mga alternative na (We have alternative) diversified crops,” she said.
She added that this has been proven productive and beneficial within the UPRIIS service areas. (PNA)