(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Wednesday, 04 October 2023) At 3:00 AM today, the center of the eye of Typhoon "JENNY" {KOINU} was estimated based on all available data at 275 km East Northeast of Itbayat, Batanes (21.9°N, 124.2°E) with maximum sustained winds of 150 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 185 km/h. It is moving West Northwestward at 10 km/h. Southwest Monsoon affecting Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, and Visayas. Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Southwest Monsoon / Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. Light to moderate winds coming from South to Southwest will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.5 meters).

Monday, June 28, 2021

Gone are the Waiting Days for farmers in AgSur town

For the longest time, farmers in Rosario, Agusan del Sur have been relying on rain to plant rice. No rain meant no crop, and no crop meant no living. The unpredictable weather made the word ‘failure’ to be a common expression of loss. 

Now, after long years of uncertainty, the tides are starting to favor the farmers of Limbatangan. The low rice production due to dry spells is now treated with the fountain of life, water. 

History of dry spells 

Residents of Barangay Tagbayagan, Rosario, Agusan del Sur depend on rice farming for a living. However, due to insufficient water supply, farmers opted for other crops such as palm oils, coconuts, and corn despite the high production cost and hassle of transportation. 

“Our barangay is a rainfed area, making farmers’ rice production so low. There were times when El Nino struck, making the lands dry for a week or two and the rice plant could not survive. Most of the farmers here have abandoned their rice areas. Some planted other crops like corn or coconut. But their yield is still low due to insufficient water,” San Luis Municipal Agriculturist Delia Valenzuela recalled. 

Drought became the parent cause of pests like rats and diseases in rice crops. Fertilizers could not be applied properly since water is inconsistent. With this, farmers can only crop once a year with a yield of 2.5 metric tons (mt) per hectare (ha). 

“We always fail and our income has been negative. Our yield was unpredictable since rain was the only basis of our farming and it would be a blessing if we can get 60 bags per hectare. Recovering from our production cost is a jackpot for us,” Fredirico Gurerro, Chairman of Limbatangan Farmers Irrigators Association said.  

Presently with PRDP

During the 1st wave implementation of the DA-Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the Limbatangan Canal Irrigation System (CIS) Project was one of the priority projects selected by the province of Agusan del Sur to be endorsed for funding. It went through various processes, from feasibility studies to series of technical reviews before it was granted the budget. 

The P50 Million Limbatangan CIS with a length of 4.9-kilometer lies from Barangay Libuac down to Poblacion and Tagbayanan Rosario, Agusan del Sur. It covers a 300-hectare rice area that intends to increase farmers’ rice production from 2.5mt/ha to 4mt/ha.  

With the subproject, it would boost the cropping intensity of the rainfed areas from 10% to 200%. Farmers' income is projected to grow up to 53%.  

“This CIS project has a huge impact on the residents of Rosario. We can see that it’s a wish come true for them. Based on the initial interview, those who diverted their field into palm oils will now revert to rice farming,” Oscar Ga, Municipal Engineer of Rosario said. 

Moreover, aside from the fund granted by PRDP, the project would not be possible without the collaboration of the National Irrigation System and the 10% counterpart of the local government unit of Rosario.

The CIS was now under the management of the Limbatangan Irrigators Farmers Association.

Future failures no more  

With the turn-over of the Limbatangan CIS, Orcisia Antang, a farmer in Rosario could say that her future is now secured. She doesn't have to settle for the 15-45 sacks per ½ hectare she got used to harvesting for more than 30 years. Antang who relied on coconuts to survive famished times is grateful for the PRDP project.

“This is a blessing, not only for me but for the whole residents here in Rosario. Rain is not the only option anymore and we can now schedule our cropping period to also avoid pest invasion. If not for this our lives would still be hard,” Antang joyfully said.

On the other hand, Guerrero testified that his yield increased up to 50%. From his highest yield of 60 sacks/ha, he can now harvest 90 sacks/ha. He even bought an additional 1ha to expand his rice farming.

Guerrero said that even if they experienced calamities such as floods. Farmers could still recover their input cost, unlike before, when they say failure, means nothing. 

“I can personally attest that farmers here are happier because of this irrigation. This also made us united since we can now agree on our cropping schedule. If farmers before individually strived hard to survive, now, we try to achieve increased yield and success together," Guerrero asserted.

Further, Orcisia understands that to make the irrigation functional, they must take care of the canal. Guerrero also shared the same thoughts and encouraged his co-farmers. 

“The only thing that we can contribute to the government is the maintenance of the irrigation system. Together with the officials, we should implement the rules and regulations in maintaining our canal since this has been entrusted to us. We will ensure that it reaches our farmers,” Guerrero said. 

Further, MAO Valenzuela believes that this CIS will allow farmers to plant twice a year making their income increase if they can successfully manage the irrigation system. 

“This is already a huge help to our farmers. We all know that farming is their only source of income. We must help them sustain and enhance their productivity for a good income and the future of their children,” encouraged Valenzuela. (DA-Caraga/PIA-Agusan del Sur)