Agriculture - - More Trees -

AS A LONG-TERM SO­LU­TION to the yearly dry spell due to El Niño, the govern­ment, in part­ner­ship with farm­ers’ groups, should con­struct and de­velop com­mu­nity wa­ter­sheds in drought-prone ar­eas. Thus is the rec­om­men­da­tion of for­mer agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary Wil­liam Dar, cit­ing the suc­cess of com­mu­nity wa­ter­shed projects in In­dia, where for 15 years he led the In­ter­na­tional Crops Re­search In­sti­tute for the Semi-Arid Trop­ics (ICRISAT).

“With com­mu­nity wa­ter­shed as a spring­board for other in­ter­ven­tions, ICRISAT has en­abled thou­sands of farm­ers in 66 wa­ter­sheds in In­dia in­crease their crop yields up to four tons per hectare from a measly one to two tons per hectare,” said Dr. Dar in a pa­per he re­cently pre­sented at the Global Food Se­cu­rity Con­sor­tium 2016 An­nual Sym­po­sium at the Iowa State Univer­sity, USA.

“Ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of com­mu­nity wa­ter­sheds should be com­ple­mented with the pro­vi­sion of in­ter­ven­tions, no­tably soil re­ju­ve­na­tion or ‘Boo­chetana’, qual­ity seeds, and bet­ter tech­nolo­gies and crop­ping sys­tems,” added Dar, who serves as pres­i­dent of InangLupa Move­ment, an agri-based civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tion he founded in Jan­uary 2015 upon re­tire­ment from ICRISAT.

He said the ICRISAT com­mu­nity wa­ter­shed and Boo­chetana pro­gram have been im­ple­mented in In­dia since 2009, cov­er­ing 3.1 mil­lion hectares, and ben­e­fit­ing 4.4 mil­lion farm fam­i­lies, whose av­er­age crop yield in­creased by up to 66%. In all, its ac­crued net ben­e­fit in four years amounted to US $240 mil­lion or about R11 bil­lion.

“The Philip­pines can also repli­cate the ICRISAT com­mu­nity wa­ter­shed and Boo­chetana model, which in fact, is be­ing pi­loted in three sites in Que­zon, Sa­mar, and Zam­boanga Sibugay, un­der the Ya­mang Lupa pro­gram,” Dar said. The Ya­mang Lupa pro­gram is jointly im­ple­mented by InangLupa, ICRISAT, and the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture through its Bureau of Soils and Wa­ter Man­age­ment (BSWM), Bureau of Agri­cul­tural Re­search (BAR), and re­gional field of­fices (4-A, 8, and 9).

“Ya­mang Lupa fea­tures com­mu­nity wa­ter­sheds and Boo­chetana, and af­ter two years, about 900 par­tic­i­pat­ing farm­ers were able to in­crease their av­er­age yield from 50% to as high [as] 230%, and their av­er­age net in­come to 150%,” Dar noted.

The BSWM has also de­vel­oped 216 soil health cards cov­er­ing 4,927 hectares in the three pi­lot sites in Sa­mar (Sta. Rita, Basey, and Pin­abac­dao); Sari­aya, Que­zon; and in RT Lim, Zam­boanga Sibugay.

In Sa­mar, where 834 farm­ers vol­un­teered to join ‘Ya­mang Lupa’ pro­gram,’ they in­creased their har­vest of low­land rice by at least 58% and 104% for sweet potato. In Sari­aya, Que­zon, among its 48 farmer­co­op­er­a­tors, the av­er­age yield of onion more than dou­bled, from 11.6 met­ric tons per hectare (MT/ha) to 25 MT/ha, for a 115.5% in­crease.

In RT Lim, Zam­boanga Sibugay, with 31 farmer-co­op­er­a­tors, the har­vest of peanut dou­bled, from a 3.3 MT/ha to 6.75 MT/ha har­vest from Ya­mang Lupa techno-demo farms.

“We are heart­ened to know of such fa­vor­able de­vel­op­ments, as we are right all along that the coun­try’s farm soils have to be re­ju­ve­nated, and that farm­ers should adopt mod­ern, yet sus­tain­able ‘Boo­chetana’ soil and com­mu­nity wa­ter­shed man­age­ment tech­nolo­gies,” Dar said.

“We thank Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Al­cala for part­ner­ing with ICRISAT to show­case and pi­lot Boo­chetana tech­nol­ogy in the Philip­pines, and hope­fully ex­pand it na­tion­wide,” Dar added.

Given ad­di­tional funds, the BSWM said it can in­crease Ya­mang Lupa pro­gram area to 16,600 ha, with the bulk in Sari­aya, Que­zon at 10,000 ha, fol­lowed by Sa­mar (5,900 ha), and Zam­boanga Sibugay (704 ha).

(For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact: Dr. Wil­liam D. Dar, pres­i­dent, InangLupa Move­ment, Inc. at mo­bile 09176512711)

Dr. Wil­liam D. Dar

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