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Albay farmers benefit from an irrigation project that boosts palay output.

Farmers in Camalig, Albay, who have benefited from agricultural reform, have reported greater palay yields of up to 120 cavans per hectare, up from 60 previously.

This comes after the completion of the PHP11.6 million Manawan Communal Irrigation System (CIS), which irrigates over 60 hectares of rice fields in Manawan and Quinartilan communities.

The CIS, with its concreted 2.8-kilometer line canals, is currently supplying a regular supply of irrigation water from the Malobago River in Guinobatan town to Camalig, according to Gerard Buensalida, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Bicol spokesperson.

“Farmers here may now expect continued greater farm yields, with an average yield of 120 cavans per hectare per cropping season, up from 60 cavans per hectare per cropping season,” he stated.

Meanwhile, according to DAR-Bicol Regional Director Rodrigo Realubit, irrigation is now allowing 211 agrarian reform beneficiaries and other palay planters to increase their cropping per year.

Palay was only grown twice a year by farmers in the barangays. Rice fields were irrigated by improvised earth channels, with water only reaching a few spots.

Rio Olavario, a rice farmer in Barangay Manawan with a 1.5-hectare rice field, said: “At the time, our condition was challenging because I was only producing 15 to 20 cavans per hectare. I can only plant once or twice a year due to a lack of water.”

Olavario went on to say that with the new irrigation canals, bigger swaths of riceland can now be accessed with enough water, giving them hope of making up for previous losses.

“This time, farmers here may now maximize their productivity, particularly in rice fields previously not open to irrigation water, paving the road to raising their farm revenues,” Dante O. Nuez, head of the Manawan Irrigators’ Association, said “..

“”From my one-hectare farm, I’ve already gathered up to 100 cavans, which is double what I’ve harvested previously,” he added.

According to Buensalida, the National Irrigation Administration undertook the repair of the Manawan CIS as part of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s support services component (CARP).

“The initiative is meant to give infrastructure facilities to agrarian reform farming communities in order to increase agricultural production and income of agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he added.

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