Bulacan, Philippines – When the planting season starts, rice Farmers in the province of Bulacan may grow vegetables instead. This is due to the continuous decrease of the water level in Angat Dam.
Bulacan and Pampanga provinces depend on Angat Dam for water irrigation. This means that the dam supplies irrigation for more than 250,000 farmers.
According to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the water level of Angat Dam drops below its critical level.
PAGASA reported a drop from 159.45 meters on Saturday, July 13 to 159.15 meters on Sunday, July 14. The dam hits 0.85 meters below its critical level of 160 meters.
Ipo and Bustos dams to the rescue
Once the planting season starts this month, Ipo and Bustos dams are set to release water. This is according to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
But according to Ildefonso Canquin, president of local farmers’ group, the amount of water from Ipo and Bustos dams are still not enough to supply more than 200,000 rice farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga.
Coping with drought
On July 2010, Angat Dam also hits below its critical level. During that time, according to Canquin, the farmers planted ampalaya instead.
This year, farmers may apply that same strategy even though vegetables yield less profit than rice production.
Vegetables don’t need much water, unlike Palay. Growing vegetables will be the best substitute for rice farming while Angat Dam cannot supply their needs. In the meantime, other farmers are advised to take other jobs.
According to Felix Robles, the officer-in-charge of NIA, there is only 40 percent of the fields that undergo land-soaking preparations as of now. This is with the help of rainfall and cooperation of farmers. Angat Dam can only support the whole area when its water level increases.