DA promotes water-saving technologies
Rudy A. Fernandez (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Water-saving technologies are being promoted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to improve water use, particularly in rain-fed agriculture.

“Low-cost and small-scale options in water-harvesting are necessary for small rural communities that rely heavily on manual and animal power for water,” Bureau of Agricultural Research director Nicomedes P. Eleazar said during the 2015 Annual Rice Forum.

“We also need to develop new approaches in agricutural water management, in particular cost-recovery and cost-effective approaches,” he added.

The forum is an annual activity sponsored by ARF, a regional non-profit organization established to support research, educational, and advocacy efforts that promote awareness and public appreciation of rice’s role within the diverse cultures of Asia.

A Philippine office of the Thailand-based ARF is hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in the University of the Philippines-Los Baños complex.

The scientific meeting was attended by officials, scientists, and researchers of UPLB, SEARCA, PCAARRD, International Rice Research Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, National Irrigation Administration, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, National Water Resources Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Calabarzon’s Irrigators’ Association Federation.

Eleazar said the DA is currently promoting two effective water-saving technologies for rice, especially in areas that have scarce water supply.

One is the alternate wet and drying method, which is an effective guide for farmers to irrigate rice fields.

“This technology can reduce irrigation significantly compared with the farmers’ practice, and, in some cases, reduce fuel consumption for pumping  water by 30 liters per hectare,” the BAR official said.

It not only conserves water but also mitigates greenhouse gas emission.

Another system is the “aerobic rice culture” in which aerobic rice varieties are grown in well-drained, non-saturated, and non-puddled soils.

“Growing rice aerobically saves water by eliminating continuous seepage and percolation, reducing evaporation and eliminating wetland preparation,” Eleazar said.

About 10 percent of the available water can be saved through farmers’ collective efforts in using the technology.

With the world population expected to grow to eight billion by 2015 or only a decade away, water scarcity is expected to increase by 30 percent in developing countries, including the Philippines, and by 18 percent in developed countries.

The United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization has predicted that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity.

The UN-International Fund for Agricultural Development also pointed out that 70 percent of fresh water goes to irrigation and the rest are for industry and domestic uses.

“Agriculture cannot function without water. We must therefore strategize and plan on how we can manage this finite resource. This forum comes very timely as we now face the challenge of possible water withdrawals,” he said.

A PHILIPPINE ACIRC AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ANNUAL RICE FORUM ASSOCIATION FEDERATION BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH BUREAU OF SOILS AND WATER MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ELEAZAR RICE WATER
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