Why only now? Albay solon bats for huge impounding dams in Bicol


smileredunhappyIn the season of change espoused by the President of the Philippines (POTP), elective government officials try to outsmart another with brilliant ideas so they would not be percieved as mere stones gathering moss on the pillars of their four cornered offices.

Some fear lurks in their heart that President Duterte would one day humiliate them with his sometimes nocturnal exposure of listing of ineffective officials.

So here comes Albay congressman Fernando Gonzales of the third district who suddenly noticed the need for big impounding dams that could be used for the irrigation of rice farmlands, especially during dry spells, particularly in the third district towns of the province.

Gonzales is in his third and last term as representative of his district, for he has been in the 15th congress (2010-2013), 16th congress (2013-2016) and the current 17th (2016-2019).

While he has been in the office for over six years, it is only now that he noticed “we have to study and further attend to, so the plight of the farmers could be improved.”

The realization of the farmer’s plight and the need for sufficient irrigation systems to improve rice production and ease the poverty of Albay’s farmers only came up during his discussion with Department of Agriculture-Bicol Director Abelardo Bragas.

All along, it is common knowledgre that 60 to 70 percent of the community in Albay are farmers who “directly or indirectly” depend on agriculture.

Gonzales said there is no need for farmers to expand their land production areas to get the highest productivity but what is needed is water to produce more cavans of rice.

Facts the congressman knew already:

  • A sufficient irrigation system the province will have an increased rice production
  • An unirrigated farmland with an area of one hectare normally produces 80 cavans of rice.
  • The same farmland if well irrigated could generate a harvest of nearly twice the unirrigated farmland, or from 120 to 150 cavans per hectare.
  • During the rainy season the farmers do not have much problem in farming but during the dry season almost half of the land area cannot be cultivated.
  • The DA, National Irrigation Administration and Department of Public Works and Highways is needed for the construction of additional “big impounding dams” that could help farmers during El Niño or dry season.
  • Albay, particularly the third district towns, serve as a catchbasin of floodwaters during the rainy season
  • The excessive rainwater could be utilized for irrigation during the dry spell or El Niño

The congressman claimed he has already allocated hundreds of millions of pesos for the farmers’ irrigation systems but there is need for “more comprehensive projects” by putting up big impounding dams like the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija and La Mesa Dam in Quezon City.

Decades ago, the government maintained watersheds like in the Bahamas dam in Barangay Nasisi in Ligao City and Ogson dam in Barangay Sta. Cruz of Libon town, both in the third district, which unfortunately are now silted and needs dredging, upgrading, modernization and retrofitting.

In the end, Gonzales throws the wrench to the Department of Agriculture in enhancing farmer production through technical help, new farming tools and equipment and provision of high value seeds.

“DA should give priority to helping the farmers increase their rice and corn production so the government could have sufficient stock and be able to rid of its importation program,” said Gonzales. (PNA Jorge Hallare)

Sponsored measures

The congressman has sponsored several measures in the lower house which include declaring March 24 of every year a special non-working holiday in the city of Ligao for its founding anniversary, declaring the stretch of beaches of Albay west coast in third district as tourist spots, establishing a national technical-vocation high school in barangay Nasisi, Ligao city, declaring the municipality of Jovellar as an ecotourism zone, creating a carabao center in Ligao, establishing a multi-purpose fishery breeding farm and hatchery for the production and multiplication of crabs and shrimps in Ligao, among others.

H/T: Image from facebook page of Congressman Gonzales.


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