Farmers decry NIA’s failure to deliver on irrigation

THE lack of coordination between farmers and contractors of the expansion project of the Agno River Integrated Service Irrigation Project (ARISIP) has resulted in the month’s delay of planting rice particularly in eastern Pangasinan.

There was no irrigation water in at least 10 or more towns in eastern Pangasinan because while construction of the ARISIP expansion project is going on, the gate of irrigation system had to be closed.

Consequently, farmers are up in arms against the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for timing the construction of the ARISIP expansion project at the start of the planting season, especially at this time when there is little rain in Pangasinan even if it is rainy season.

Dalisay Moya, officer-in-charge at the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg)) told the KBP Forum that the one-month delay in rice planting will have an impact on the capacity of the province to retain its Rice Achiever’s Award given yearly by the Department of Agriculture.

Moya said worst affected by lack of irrigation water are some 600 hectares of farmlands.

NIA, which operates ARISIP and all the other major irrigation projects in Pangasinan earlier vowed to release irrigation water last June 12 and reset it to June 15, that was why farmers sowed their rice seeds in their beds, anticipating that NIA will sustain with its promise, said Moya.

Since the promised irrigation never came, the seedlings matured and could no longer be planted as scheduled.

Naging senior citizens na ang mga punla, which are all certified rice seeds. The farmers can not transplant these any more to their fields and will have to discard all of these,” she said.

This is a big loss to farmers in eastern Pangasinan as rice seedlings need to be planted in the fields from 15 to 26 days after being sowed.

Moya said officials and members of irrigators associations from different towns affected by lack of irrigation water flowing in NIA canals came to her office in Sta. Barbara town on Wednesday to report their heavy losses when NIA reneged in its promise to release irrigation water on June 15.

Moya expressed hope NIA will keep its word to deliver water on July 31 because farmers will again plant new rice seedlings in their beds, granting that they were able to obtain certified rice seeds from the DA. (Leonardo Micua)