TAGBILARAN CITY – Sec. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan vowed to pitch support for Bohol’s quest for cloud seeding in hinterlands of Bohol where the big dams are drying up. Pangilinan, presidential assistant for agriculture modernization, bared this yesterday in an ambush interview while he was on his way to the airport after he graced the inauguration of training center and region 6 and 7 anniversary celebration of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
In a bid to arrest the drying of big dams, officials are mulling for cloud seeding in El Niño-induced areas for possible rain. The proposed cloud-seeding activity to save rice lands from further destruction due to lack of water from irrigation dams. Cloud seeding is a “technique of stimulating or enhancing precipitation by distributing dry ice crystals or silver iodide particles over developing storm clouds in a specific area of the atmosphere.”
The situation alarmed farmers/irrigators of the dams’ service areas. Farmers/irrigators would probably be suffering in the next planting season due to dams’ serious condition. Bohol has four major dams. Malinao in Pilar town with service area of 4,700 has.; Bayongan, San Miguel, 5,300 has.; Capayas, Ubay, 1,100 has.; and Talibon town, about 1,000 has.
Larry Pamugas, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculturist office, bared that irrigation encountered some hitches as some “hard-headed” farmer-irrigators have embarked on what he called as third rice cropping. Though they are maybe few but the use of water in the dam are compromised.
He also said that water flow to the rice farms could be controlled but some farmers tried to open up gates in an attempt to water their fields for the said cropping.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan, former chair of the Senate agriculture committee, told the audience that “we should treat the farmers with respect like our parents because they’re the ones who feed us.” He said that it’s been long time that farmers, who he considers the backbone of the nation, were not given support they need.
“I have a job because of the farmers,” he said, adding that securing farmers is securing food.
He lamented that farmers are getting old since the average age of the farmers is 56-58 and educational is only up to grade four. And less young ones are going into farming because the income derived from farming is only about Php23,000/year. This proves they’re not being supported, he said.
As this developed, he urged agencies concerned to extend support necessary for the farmers to produce more. He said that the country cannot be like any countries belonging to Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), like Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia or Vietnam and others if agencies don’t give importance of the farmers.
He cited as one concrete step in supporting the farmers is the provision of irrigation facilities. He expressed optimism that if only that agencies concerned come and work together agriculture could be improved.
Joining the NIA event were NIA administrator Engr. Florencio F. Padernal, NIA acting regional manager Mario Sande, Rep. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado (2nd dist), Gov. Edgar Chatto, City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, Reps. Rene Relampagos and Arthur Yap were represented, officials of the National Food Administration (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), officers and members of the irrigators association of Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Oreintal aside from Bohol. (rvo)