Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said water supply for agriculture in the Philippines has been declining over the last few decades because of several reasons, including continued deforestation, threatening the headwaters of major river systems.
KJ Rosales/File
DA warns of major water crisis for farmers
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the current water supply issue and El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has warned of a major water crisis for the farm sector if the government does not act on it immediately.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said water supply for agriculture in the Philippines has been declining over the last few decades because of several reasons, including continued deforestation, threatening the headwaters of major river systems.

“There are three key elements in agricultural productivity: land, sunlight and water. Land and sunlight can be substituted with aquaponics technology and artificial light, but there can never be agriculture without water,” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief added that the frequency of the occurrence of the drought-inducing El Niño phenomenon, which now hits the country every two years, and the delay in the implementation of irrigation systems are among the reasons why supply for agriculture gets less and less.

“There is also absence of water conservation programs, water catchments and small impounding dams and the reliance of agriculture on traditional irrigation systems instead of embracing modern irrigation technology using solar power,” Piñol said.

The National Irrigation Administration and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System have already agreed to undertake joint projects to solve possible water and food security problems in the metro and nearby areas.

Furthermore, Piñol is recommending long-term solutions to avert a much worse water supply issue in the future. Among these are a national program to locate and identify headwaters, which would be declared as protected areas and stricter enforcement of forest protection laws.

“There should be dredging of major river systems to increase water holding capacity and prevent flooding during rainy season as well as funding and implementation of alternative irrigation systems,” Piñol said.

He also called for the passage of a law on National Soil and Water Conservation Program and giving the DA the mandate and funding to build small reservoirs, impounding and water catchments all over the country.

“Unless these measures are implemented, the Philippines could face a major water crisis in the next few years,” he said.

FARMING WATER CRISIS
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