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Business

Expanded irrigation to boost Iloilo rice output

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
Expanded irrigation to boost Iloilo rice output
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.said the second phase of JRMP would irrigate an additional 9,500 hectares of farms on top of the existing 22,340 hectares in the province.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The expansion of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) is expected to increase local rice production in Iloilo by almost 140,000 metric tons, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.said the second phase of JRMP would irrigate an additional 9,500 hectares of farms on top of the existing 22,340 hectares in the province.

The JRMP II would boost the rice output of 23 towns and two cities by 71 percent or around 140,000 MT to a total of 338,000 MT.

The wider irrigation coverage would benefit 25,000 rice farmers and 4,500 indigenous people in Iloilo province, Laurel said.

The P19.7-billion JRMP Phase II project is expected to be completed within the year and be operationalized by the middle of next year, Laurel said.

The JRMP project is being undertaken by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

“This project... will greatly contribute to President  Marcos’ vision of increasing food production and helping our farmers have better lives,” Laurel said.

Aside from providing water supply to rained farms, the DA said the JRMP II also has a 6.6-megawatt power generation, bulk water, fishery, tourism, flood control, housing for indigenous people, and carbon sequestration components.

The DA added that 17,290 hectares will be reforested to sequester carbon dioxide to generate carbon credits that can be sold and fund other projects as part of the watershed and buffer zone management of JRMP II.

“A product of collaboration among 28 national agencies and local government units, this multiyear infrastructure development is proof of what we can achieve as a people if we stay united and focused,” Laurel said.

“The financing that the South Korean government (provided) allowed NIA to pursue the second phase of this important project, which actually started in the early 1960s, years before I was born,” the agriculture chief added.

The Jalaur River Basin is the second largest river basin in Panay Island, which provides irrigation to Iloilo that has been dubbed the food basket and rice granary of Western Visayas, according to the DA.

Iloilo was the country’s fifth largest rice producer last year with a total estimated output of 1.07 million MT, the DA added.

The DA noted that the canal system of JRMP II extends to 80 kilometers and involves three dams and a hydroelectric power plant. The DA said the overall physical accomplishment of the JRMP II stood at 74 percent while its financial accomplishment was at 70 percent at the end of January.

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