TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – “The newly-opened water impounding project will help us increasing our crop productivity without depending on the availability of rains,” according to  Gilbert Soriano, the president of the Arapaap Small Water Irrigation System Association (SWISA) in Allacapan, Cagayan.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar formally turned over the P24-million Small Water Impounding Project (SWIP) to the Arapaap SWISA during his short visit in Cagayan on September 30, 2020.

The SWIP, one of the largest of its kind in Cagayan Valley, will benefit 75 farmer-beneficiaries with a service area of 100 hectares.

“Dahil sa inyong tulong ay mas madali na sa amin ang pagtatanim ng palay at hindi na lang umaasa sa ulan,” Soriano said after accepting the SWIP.

Secretary Dar stressed the importance of irrigation to farming.

“You need water and irrigation to be more productive,” Dar said.

As such, Secretary Dar assured to the farmers that the Department of Agriculture (DA), along with its regional offices, will continue to allot a big chunk of the DA budget for irrigation projects nationwide.

Aside from irrigation, Secretary Dar underscored the value of rainwater harvesting technologies that are already being used in other countries to irrigate more farms for rice, corn, and even high-value crops.

“Sa India, 60 porsiyento ng kanilang tubig-ulan ang naiipon para magamit sa pagtatanim at iba pa. Samantala dito sa Pilipinas, anim na porsiyento lamang. Sayang ang siyamnapu’t apat na porsiyento na nasasayang at napupunta lamang sa dagat,” the secretary said. (In India 60% of their rainwater is saved for use in planting and so on, whereas in the Philippines, it’s only 6%. The 64% is wasted and just goes back to the sea.)

He added, “Kung mayroon tayong malikom na pondo sa susunod na taon ay ilalaan natin sa pagpapatayo ng rainwater harvesting projects sa buong bansa.” (If we have the budget next year, we can allot funds for a rainwater harvesting project.)

Secretary also reported that the agriculture and fisheries sector grew in the second quarter despite the pandemic. “Tumaas ng 1.6 percent ang sektor sa kabila ng pandemya. Ibig sabihin na kung todo ang suporta ng national government sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda, magiging sentro ng pag-unlad ng ekonomiya ang agrikultura,” he said. (The sector increased by 1.6% despite the pandemic. This means if that the nations government offers full support to farmers and fishers, these industries will be the centre of agricultural growth.)

He also recognized the hard work hard of the farmers and fishers to produce food in spite of the challenges of the pandemic.

He also emphasized the important role of local government units (LGUs) in supporting the initiatives of DA to make farmers and fishers more prosperous.

According to the Secretary, the country will recover from the impact of the pandemic with the collective actions of every Filipino.

“Babangon ang mga magsasaka, babangon ang mga mangingisda, bababangon ang mga nagnenegosyo, babangon tayong lahat,” Dar said. (Farmers and fishers will recover, businesses will recover, all of us will recover.)