Aris moves to boost agri amid COVID-19 threat

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Aris moves to boost agri amid COVID-19 threat

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NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.

REP. Erico Aristotle Aumentado wants to boost rice farmers’ production through irrigation now that restrictions due to the CoViD-19 pandemic have eased up a bit under a general community quarantine (GCQ).

This, among others, was the focus of discussion between the solon and Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto “Abet” Uy at the Bishop’s Palace at the St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral yesterday morning.

Being pressed for time because the planting season is just around the corner, however, and because the national government has been pooling funds to support the fight against the unseen enemy that is the dreaded virus, Aumentado said the quickest solution at the least cost would be pumping water from rivers and even the dams onto lines to the rice fields.

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Bohol has a rolling terrain. Since water seeks its own level, more often than not, it is below the elevation of the rice fields. This includes the water in the reservoir of the Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town. The water level is still below the outlet valve level – making it “dead water”, Aumentado explained.

Short of an engineering intervention that would be too costly at the moment, Aumentado suggested water pumps.

The solon, Agriculture Region 7 Director Salvador Diputado, National Irrigation Administration Region 7 Manager Wilson Lopez, and the solon’s local consultant Romeo Teruel had scouted the different rivers crisscrossing the 2nd District to check for ideal points to install the centrifugal pumps.

The second district is touted to be Bohol’s rice granary, but the farmers can only be productive as the water they can muster to irrigate their farms.

This led Aumentado to invite the irrigation and agriculture officials to interface programs and resources to boost the production of the Boholano rice farners.

Aumentado expressed hope that the pumps can provide water even to rain-fed fields for these to be ready for the traditional planting season in June. The scattered thunderstorms experienced these past weeks have not refilled the dams, hence the pumps.

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The solon confided that Agriculture Secretary William Dar is even bullish on installing solar-powered pumps. NIA’s task is to estimate the quantity required so that the costing can be prepared.

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Also top in the Uy-Aumentado discussion was the raging CoViD-19 pandemic. The solon said like the rest of the Bohol officials, he enjoins his constituents to not put their guard down as sneaky Boholanos might use the vast coastline for their re-entry.

The district’s responsibility is doubled, he said, because of its several islands and islets where operators can hide their pumpboats in case they see patrolling elements of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Police and even Bantay Dagat.

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Though his donors and some funds from his own pocket, he and his staff have been distributing personal protective equipment (suits and masks), alcohol and foodstuffs to frontliners in the hospitals, police stations and barangay health stations and tanods, as well as the PCG, Maritime Police and Bantay-Dagat volunteers.

He wants to assure, especially the latter, that their respective families have food and are taken care of for them to continue patrolling Bohol’s borders.

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With national funds and local counterparts, he has built multipurpose buildings in practically all 2nd District barangays. Not just for sports and cultural activities alone, the buildings also serve as evacuation centers, and with little renovation, barangay isolation centers, if worse comes to worst. (By JUNE S. BLANCO)

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