Rio Verde’s wa­ter use no ef­fect on rice yield in Baun­gon, Bukid­non

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - By Jig­ger J. Jerusalem

DE­SPITE al­le­ga­tion that rice pro­duc­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Baun­gon, Bukid­non has de­creased due to the si­phon­ing of wa­ter of the town’s ir­ri­ga­tion canal by a bulk wa­ter sup­plier, there was ac­tu­ally an in­crease in land con­verted to rice farm, a Na­tional Ir­ri­ga­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion-10 (NIA-10) of­fi­cial said.

Engr. Kien­zel Glenn Car­rillo, of­fi­cer-in-charge of NIA-10’s Bubunawan River Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem (RIS) of­fice based in Baun­gon, said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day that from 2013 to 2018, land de­voted to rice pro­duc­tion in Baun­gon has gone up from 132 hectares in 2013 to 212 hectares in 2018.

In 2014, it went fur­ther up by 159 hectares, but the num­ber of hectares has re­mained the same the fol­low­ing year. Land used for rice pro­duc­tion has de­clined to 151 hectares in 2016, but rose again in 2017 by 194 hectares.

Baun­gon has a to­tal land area of 32,834 hectares. Per data from NIA-10, the

Bubunawan RIS, ser­vic­ing at least six Baun­gon vil­lages, has a to­tal ir­ri­gated area of 194.56 hectares for rice, 53 hectares for an­nual crops, and four hectares for other crops.

Just re­cently, lawyer Ernie Palanan al­leged that Rio Verde Wa­ter Con­sor­tium Inc.’s tap­ping of wa­ter from NIA-10’s ir­ri­ga­tion canal in Baun­gon has caused the drop in rice pro­duc­tion in said town.

In news re­ports, Palanan has rep­re­sented him­self as the spokesper­son of a farm­ers’ group who he claimed was af­fected by the con­tract be­tween NIA-10 and Rio Verde for the sell­ing of ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter to the lat­ter.

Be­cause of the deal that al­lowed Rio Verde to siphon wa­ter from NIA10’s ir­ri­ga­tion canal in Baun­gon, Palanan has blamed the com­pany for the re­duc­tion of rice yield of farm­ers in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

He said NIA-10 sold about 40,000 cu­bic me­ters of wa­ter to Rio Verde at 13 cen­tavos per cu­bic me­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to Rio Verde in a state­ment, it buys only 1,667 cu­bic me­ters of wa­ter per hour, or 40,000 per day, from NIA-10 at 17 cen­tavos per cu­bic me­ter. The vol­ume of wa­ter flow­ing in the Bubunawan river is 79,200 cu­bic me­ters per hour.

The firm said it is only “ex­tract­ing two per­cent of the avail­able wa­ter flow­ing along the Bubunawan river.”

In his Jan. 23, 2018 let­ter to NIA-10 re­gional ir­ri­ga­tion man­ager Ali Sa­tol, NIA-10 head of the agency’s north satel­lite of­fice Raul Mon­te­bon has as­sured that de­spite the sell­ing of wa­ter to Rio Verde there is still enough sup­ply for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s farm­ers.

Engr. Ulysses Bracero, Rio Verde act­ing plant man­ager, said the com­pany did not re­new its five-year con­tract with NIA-10 af­ter it ter­mi­nated on Jan­uary this year.

In fact, Bracero said, Rio Verde has sealed off its pipe­line that con­nected it to an ir­ri­ga­tion canal in Barangay Im­batug, Baun­gon.

Re­act­ing to Palanan’s al­le­ga­tions, Baun­gon Mayor Pedro Al­varez, said less lands in Baun­gon were be­ing planted with rice since the peo­ple pre­fer to plant other crops such as cas­sava and corn.

Aside from pref­er­ence of other crops over rice, the mayor said many farm­ers are just con­tent with leas­ing their lands to multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions that plant cash crops.

Al­varez is the son of Jose Al­varez, the gov­er­nor of Palawan and chair­man of Rio Verde Wa­ter Corp., which owns Rio Verde Wa­ter Con­sor­tium Inc. and Cebu Bulk Wa­ter Con­sor­tium Inc.

Al­though he is re­lated to the elder Al­varez, the mayor has clar­i­fied that he is not in­volved in the busi­ness as­pect of Rio Verde.

(JIG­GER J. JERUSALEM)

THE Rio Verde Wa­ter Con­sor­tium Inc. treat­ment fa­cil­ity in Barangay Pualas, Baun­gon, Bukid­non.

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