Department of Agriculture

Pangasinan farmers urged to plant early as San Roque Dam level drops

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Pangasinan farmers urged to plant early as San Roque Dam level drops

WATER SOURCE. File photo of the San Roque Dam

San Roque Power Corporation

NIA Ilocos Region aims to cover seven hectares for early planting

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – With El Niño just around the corner, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Ilocos Region urged farmers to plant early to take advantage of the still existing water supply.

NIA Ilocos Region aims to cover seven hectares for early planting.

NIA Ilocos Region chief Gaudencio de Vera raised concerns over the rapidly dipping water level of the San Roque Dam.

The dam is the major source of irrigation in the province, supplying water to about 32,000 hectares of farmlands spread across 14 towns and cities in Pangasinan.

Dam monitoring by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) logged San Roque Dam at 233.26 meters above sea level (masl) – a far cry from its 280 masl normal high-water level.

De Vera warned that they would cease supplying irrigation canals water if the dam dips to 225 masl. This would also mean that the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) would stop producing power as well.

“Sadsad na tayo sa 225 (masl). Kung walang irerelease para sa pagproduce ng kuryente, wala ring irerelease na tubig para sa irrigation,” said de Vera in an interview over Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan on Friday, May 5.

(We would be depleted at 225 [masl]. If there’s no water to be released to produce electricity, no water would also be released for irrigation.)

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NIA also eyes to augment or add irrigation water, citing the need for them to lay out their solar irrigation projects.

NIA has already distributed solar irrigation pumps to several farmers as of posting. It is also coordinating with the Department of Agriculture for the release of seeds to give to farmers.

The NIA recently met with the SRPC, National Power Corporation, Municipal Agriculture Officers and Irrigators Association, Provincial Agriculture Office, PAGASA, and other stakeholders to discuss contingency measures.

De Vera said farmlands near irrigation canals and the dam may still be supplied with water, while farmlands from municipalities far from the dam were advised on further assistance the NIA could offer.

“Kung sakaling kulangin talaga tayo ng tubig, ang magiging priority ay ‘yung mga malapit sa dam at canals,” he added.

(In case we run low on water, our priority will be those near the dam and canals.)

Higher vegetable prices

Pangasinan residents are reeling from the effects of rising temperatures, as dog days are forecasted to peak this May.

Vegetable prices shot up by P10 to P20 per kilo, based on the latest price monitoring in public markets across the province.

On average, ampalaya (bitter gourd) has gone up to P100 from P80 per kilo, and tomatoes for P30 from P20 per kilo.

Eggplants are now selling at P80 per kilogram, from P60 per kilo in April. Villasis town, a major eggplant producer in the region, has recorded a 40% decrease in eggplant yield due to the intense heat.

GMA Regional TV News reported that the Villasis Municipal Agriculture Office recorded an average of 15 tons per hectare in eggplant yield – lower than the usual 25 tons per hectare harvested before 2023.

Mang Ferdie, a local farmer, said he will temporarily stop farming, as other fellow farmers in town have decided to shift, for now, to planting corn, being far more resilient than eggplants.

Mahirap na, baka malugi rin, lalo at iinit pa itong panahon baka mahirapan magpatubo,” he said. (I might lose more money – it would be difficult to grow crops if it gets even hotter.) –

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