Shortage of irrigation water supply raises alarm for farmers in western Aklan

Jun Aguirre

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Shortage of irrigation water supply raises alarm for farmers in western Aklan

DRYING UP. The Aklan River which serves as a natural boundary between east and west Aklan, is drying up before the start of the El Nino period.

Jun Aguirre / Rappler

Western parts of Aklan are already facing a shortage of irrigation water, says NIA-Aklan chief Julieta Gallardo

AKLAN, Philippines – The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Monday, June 26, sounded the alarm over the potential impact of the El Niño phenomenon in some parts of the Aklan, particularly in the western district, due to a shortage of irrigation water supply.

“The current situation is that East Aklan has sufficient water to withstand the El Niño. In West Aklan, we are already facing a shortage of irrigation water for the farmers,” said NIA-Aklan chief Julieta Gallardo.

During the quarterly Provincial Agriculture and Fishery Council (PAFC) meeting at the Aklan provincial capitol, Engineer Gallardo said NIA has started a series of information dissemination activities in the western parts of Aklan to prepare farmers.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is currently looking into the shallow riverbeds and irrigation canals in western Aklan. Shallow irrigation canals make it challenging for NIA to augment water supply from the eastern to the western parts of Aklan.

Western Aklan comprises towns including Buruanga, Malay, Nabas, Ibajay, Tangalan, Makato, Numancia, Lezo, and Malinao. Eastern Aklan, on the other hand, consists of Kalibo, New Washington, Banga, Balete, Libacao, Madalag, Batan, and Altavas.

Lezo, Makato, and Numancia are among the areas identified by NIA as the areas that would likely be worst-hit by the impending El Niño, said Gallardo.

The NIA has outlined interventions to mitigate the effects of El Niño in Aklan. These include the following:

  • close monitoring of water delivery and distribution in the target areas
  • information dissemination to affected irrigation associations and farmers
  • coordination with different government agencies regarding their respective programs against El Niño
  • provision of water pumps to critical areas
  • promotion and acceleration of the “gulayan sa canal” (vegetable gardening in canals)
  • promotion of crop diversification
  • restoration of ditches

Of the 1,060 hectares of NIA’s program area in western Aklan, through the Panakuyan River Irrigation System, only 508.60 hectares were irrigated; 247 hectares were designated as land soaking area; 239 hectares were undergoing land preparation; and approximately 22.60 hectares are vegetative, according to Gallardo.

In the eastern district, which comprises a program area of 2,299.50 hectares, all areas have been ensured of an available water supply to combat the El Nino phenomenon, Gallardo said.

Engineer Alexys Apolonio, the head of the Aklan Provincial Agriculture Office, said July to September were likely to become the most critical months for farmers.

“I encourage farmers to explore diversified farming as a means of economic survival during this crisis,” he said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) the beginning of the El Niño period is likely to take place in July.

Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista told Rappler on Saturday, June 24, that their priority is to ensure a potable water supply not only for residents but also for tourists visiting Boracay.

“I have been assured by the three water companies in Malay that they have enough water. What we worry about is the farmers. I have already asked our local agriculture team to study all possible interventions. What we hope is that PAGASA will provide us with real-time forecasts because our farmers do not know when and what to plant to survive,” Bautista said. – Rappler.com

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