Native Molbog farmers from Barangay Indalawan, Balabac town are the pioneer beneficiaries of the soon-to-be constructed P10-million worth irrigation project bankrolled by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to some 150 hectares of rice land.
Engr. Conrado V. Cardenas, NIA Provinical Manager, confirmed this in an exclusive interview with Palawan Daily News on Wednesday.
“In Barangay Indalawan alone, meron tayong 150 hectares na idi-develop, 80 hectares of which is already developed without facilities. Well pagnatapos na ‘yung proyekto mga 650 hectares ang matutubigan,” Cardenas said.
The project is believed to serve some 26 farmers in Barangay Indalawan, who, for years struggled in farming due to lack of water resources in the area.
“Noong unang dating ko ng Palawan, nag-request na sila ng irrigation, that was 2005. Pero hindi kami nagkaroon ng time na bumisita dahil nga sa peace and order noong time na ‘yun. Then ‘yung situation ng roads papunta sa area and lastly, hindi pa acceptable noon kasi may bayad pa,” he said.
Cardenas admitted that they have been intimidated by the distance of the far-flung municipality from the mainland and expressed worry on how they will supply aggregates and construction materials which will be needed for the project. Nevertheless, with continuous discussion amongst the local administration, they have come into a resolution, making the 10m total proposed project costs suffice.
“’Nagkaroon na kami ng inspection sa area. Pwede natin kunan ng aggregates. ‘Yung manpower sa local natin kukunin,” Cardenas further said.
He also cited that he has been visiting the island town and was already conducting trainings and seminars for the farmer beneficiaries, talking with the local government unit (LGU) and other organization involved.
“Nag-conduct na kami ng pre-construction conference para ma-inform ang farmers at LGU’s at lahat ng involve sa construction. Trainings din para sa mga farmers. Basic leadership, system management,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas said that Manuel Redison, the Municipal Agriculturist, originally recorded some 1,370 hectares of potential rice lands situated in the island municipality.
Around 930 hectares of these are positively identified by NIA, leaving 440 hectares of rice land as variant. The department is also keen on seeing other barangays irrigated.
“Isa pang nakitaan natin ng potential is ‘yung Barangay Salang, tinitingnan din natin ‘yan and hopefully maisama,” Cardenas said.
NIA plans on completing the irrigation project by the end of the year and wants the local molbog farmers to benefit and soon start to harvest in the first quarter of 2020.
Currently, rice supplies in Balabac are imported from mainland Palawan and in the neighboring country of Malaysia. If the irrigation project presumes into success, the island town can supply its very own rice demand.
Cardenas said that part of NIA’s mission is to prosper and maximize the capability of Palawan farmers in producing and supplying the growing rice demand in the province.