PGIN holds forum on agricultural resiliency, seeks immediate solution to El Niño threats

LAOAG CITY – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte together with the provincial office of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Ilocos Norte Water District held a forum on agricultural resiliency at the provincial capitol here on March 17 as a follow-up of the first Ilocos Norte Water Summit which was held last year to push for a long-term water management plan for the province.

The forum seeks to come up with immediate solutions to the threats brought about by drought on water being experienced by local farmers.

Edwin Cariño, head of the MDG office in the province, said that the forum, which was participated in by 150 farmers from the different municipalities of Ilocos Norte, emphasizes the importance of augmenting the water resources of the province as El Niño sets in and seeks to come up with immediate solutions to the threats brought about by drought on local farmers.”

Sabi ng PAGASA, mild na El Niño daw, ang nararamdaman ko naman ngayon parang extreme El Niño…kasi sa totoo lang, bitak-bitak na ang lupa sa mga maraming lugar (sa probinsya) katulad sa Pinili, Piddig at Batac,” Governor Imee R. Marcos said during the forum.

It was revealed that farmers in Pinili have been experiencing drought since January resulting a drop in vegetables and garlic production. Irrigation systems in Pasuquin, on the other hand, have become nonfunctional because of water scarcity.

“Nakagamit na po kami ng limang drums ng krudo para sa patubig lamang sa pagsasaka namin,” Lemuel T. Sagayan, a farmer from Vintar, said even as he expressed hope that the provincial government would come to their rescue to help them with their problem of inadequate water supply.

During the forum, Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, Vice President for Research and Extension of Mariano Marcos State University, discussed and emphasized that the Alternate Wet and Dry (AWD) method is more important now than ever.

“Farmers can only truly appreciate the benefits of AWD method if adaption is done at the community system level,” said Alibuyog.

“Parang bagyo na lang yata ang (pag-ulan) sa Ilocos. Yung huli nating matino at maayos na ulan ay noong October (pa). Kasi kapag November at December, konti (ang ulan), tapos wala na…uminit na bigla…ngayon paano tayo mag-susurvive nito,” Marcos said.

“To mitigate the adverse effects of water drought in the province, we need to produce more rice by using less water thus the need for AWD method as it reduces the use of water by as much as 15-35%,” Engr. Noel D. Ganotisi, senior science research specialist of Philippine Rice Research Institute – Batac, stressed.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Water District General Manager John Teodoro, General Manager said that they already started promoting the method as well as the production of water tubes [main material of the AWD method] using INWD’s additional and faulty polyvinyl chloride (PVC)…used in the piping system of the province’s water supply.”

Teodoro added that “what we produced will be distributed among Ilocano farmers and will serve as sample water tubes wherein they can replicate by using other materials, aside from PVC, like bamboos.”

Marcos urged the farmers to be hand-in-hand with the provincial government in mapping out an immediate water management plan.

“Kaya dapat tulong-tulong [tayo]… maasahan ninyo po ang tulong ng [provincial government] pero kailangan natin na gumawa ng plano,” the governor said. (From the report of J. Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)