August 6, 2021
A newly rehabilitated irrigation system consisting of three dams in Pampanga is seen to boost food security for Filipinos amid COVID-19.
The Porac-Gumain River Irrigation System, a subcomponent of a 6.187-billion yen National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (NISRIP) of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), seeks to improve and sustain rice production in the Philippines, ensuring food security in the long-term.
NIA officials led by Administrator Ricardo Visaya, representatives from the local government units, and farmer leaders attended the turnover of the project this week, the sixth rehabilitated irrigation system that the project completed to date.
The project in Pampanga will help more than 4,000 farmers in the municipalities of Lubao, Floridablanca, Guagua and Sta. Rita in Pampanga particularly challenged with water source problems from the Mount Pinatubo eruption and watershed denudation from the eruption.
"We're optimistic that this facility will be a great help to the agriculture sector in Pampanga dealing with the pandemic and climate change issues like water shortage and drought. When we improve the production capacities of farmers, then we will also see improvement in food supply and reduced hunger," said JICA Philippines Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo. "The JICA assistance is our way of building up the agriculture sector which showed promise in terms of growth in 2020 despite the pandemic."
As in other countries facing the pandemic, the Philippines faced instability and job losses in 2020. However, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported 0.7 growth in agriculture in the third quarter of 2020.
Engr. Josephine Salazar, regional manager of NIA region 3, said that Pampanga has the highest irrigation development in Central Luzon from being a lahar province in the past. "The current development of irrigation proves that the Philippine government sees great potential of the agricultural sector. As a driving force towards inclusive growth and ultimate goal to assist and support the agricultural heroes - the Filipino farmers," Salazar said.
NISRIP is one of JICA's key projects to support Philippine agriculture. Its components include rehabilitating irrigation facilities, institutional strengthening of irrigators' associations, and agricultural support. The NISRIP project sites in the Philippines are: Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Quezon, Palawan, Iloilo, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and Agusan del Sur.
Ceremonial turnover of the Irrigators' Associations (IA) facilities' key from NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya to Pampanga Federation of IAs Romeo Pingul.
Unveiling of the IA facility marker
The Gumain Dam newly rehabilitated through NISRIP
NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya and JICA Philippines Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo during the ribbon-cutting at the turnover of Lateral C-1 IA Office in Sto. Domingo, Lubao, Pampanga.