KIDAPAWAN CITY – Incoming Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is set to push for communal irrigation, instead of constructing big dams, to ensure increase in rice production.
Piñol will start holding office on June 30.
One of the things he would prioritize doing in his first 100 days in office is to check all the irrigation facilities in the country.
“Yes, we do have irrigation facilities. But look, they are already silted. If there’s no rain, there’s no water there,” he said.
He explained that communal irrigation, like, putting up water pumps, especially in upland areas, will ensure the country’s food sufficiency.
“If we can only target additional one million hectares for rice and corn, and put up water pumps in those areas, we don’t need to import. You know, agriculture is simple. If we don’t have water, we cannot plant,” said he.
But instead of focusing on irrigation, Piñol said that agriculture officials during the previous administrations were geared towards rice importation.
“Indeed, there is a conspiracy. Ang ubang mga opisyal sa gubyerno, open sa importation kay diha man sila maka-income (Some government officials are open for importation because that’s where they could earn),” said Piñol.
He cited the Malitubog-Maridagao irrigation dam in Carmen in North Cotabato as a classic case of how inept the government was in addressing problems in agriculture.
“Ang Malmar dam, gi-bidding na last 1989. Today is 2016. Wala pa gihapon kana nahuman (The Malmar dam underwent bidding in 1998. Today is 2016. It is not yet completed),” he explained.
The province is included as one of the biggest rice suppliers in South and Central Mindanao. (Malu Cadelina Manar)