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Farmers call for irrigation upgrades tailored to growing areas

UPGRADES to irrigation systems must be preceded by studies that evaluate the suitability of the works to the growing area, farmers said.

Raul Q. Montemayor, national manager of the Federation of Free Farmers said the design of any given irrigation system must also include interventions like extension services, access to technology, and crop insurance.

“The proper approach is to inspect the area first to see what potential crops can be planted and what kind of water requirement is needed to know what irrigation system is suitable,” Mr. Montemayor said during the virtual launch of a book on irrigation by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies on Jan. 28.

Mr. Montemayor said crop diversification is crucial to improving farmer incomes. 

According to Mr. Montemayor, there is a tendency for irrigation projects to overestimate the system’s potential for obtaining financing, noting that the size of harvestable land area keeps dropping despite government planning for new irrigation systems.

Mr. Montemayor added that the government should explore improving water management and cost-effective irrigation technologies, and to involve farmers in the design process.

“It will be the farmers who will make the system effective; They can also damage it if they do not take care of it. So, we really have to involve them from the start,” Mr. Montemayor said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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