San Fernando, Pampanga—While other regions of the country are experiencing drought, the 380,000 hectares of irrigated rice field of Central Luzon is safe from the weather phenomenon called El Niño.
Benjamin Baltazar, operation officer of the Department of Agriculture in Central Luzon said that drought is not yet a problem in the region as of now as there is sufficient water for irrigation purposes.
“We have enough water for irrigation for palay and other seasonal crops production”, Baltazar said.
Baltazar attributed the supply of water for irrigation from the different dams located in the region specially the Pantabagan, Angat and the advance distribution of artesian wells to the farmers in anticipation of the coming drought in the country.
Since the last quarter of 2018, Secretary Manny Pinol of the Department of Agriculture ordered the distribution of about 1,000 units of artesian wells among farmers in the region in preparation for coming drought.
Baltazar said 50 percent of irrigation in region is use by farmers from Nueva Ecija, the rice granary of Central Luzon while the remaining 50 percent was distributed among the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, and Bataan.
The Pantabagan dam is an earth-fill embankment on the Pampanga River located in municipally of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija and is a multi-purpose dam that provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation with its lake serving as flood control mitigation measure during rainy season.
The dam is considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia. This was completed in 1974 with the amount of $20.74 million with normal elevation of 230 meters.
“Farmers in the six provinces had started harvesting their yield this month up to May in anticipation of the drought”, he said.
He also added that the average yield of the farmer in the region is about 1.6 million metric ton per harvest season.
The data on rice production shows an increase of 9.63% which equates to 19.28 million metric ton in 2017 in contrast with the 17.63 metric ton of 2016.
Central Luzon, the rice granary of the country contribute 3.63 million metric ton for the national rice production or about 19% as per February 2018 data.
The Pantabangan dam water level reached 210 meters last December down to 206 at present which is still good enough for the next planting season.
Baltazar also warned farmers who are planning to plan for next planting season including palay and seasonal crops to take precautionary measures against the weather phenomenon as it is still a very long way to go before the onset of rainy season.
With regards to the reported drought in town of Arayat, Balthazar said this is not true because the irrigation system was only covered by sand that prevented the free flow of water from reaching the rice field in the area.