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Waters no longer run dry for BALIKSAKA farmers

Since its establishment in 2001, the BALIKSAKA Farmers Association Inc. (BFAI) persevered in producing crops against all odds, including the lack of irrigation.
 
BFAI President Rhodora Rey recalls the days when the agrarian reform beneficiaries' group started from scratch in hectares of cogon grass in Barangay Pinugay, Baras, Rizal.
 
Pinugay is known to be a rain-fed area in terms of irrigation and has scarce water sources in the dry season. Rice can only be planted in the rainy season due to lack of year-round irrigation.
 
At one point, Rey recalls that the group even resorted to sourcing water from local creeks despite possible risks.
 
Slowly but surely though, the Baras-based farm group progressed with much-needed help from various government agencies' programs.
 
Through the Department of Agrarian Reform-Rizal, BFAI eventually acquired their certificates of land ownership awards (CLOA) on 2011 and 2012.
 
On September 2021, BALIKSAKA has formally received a P 20 million solar-powered irrigation facility turned over by Nationa Irrigation Authority Ricardo Visaya and Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones.
 
The 20 million irrigation project is funded through DAR's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP) and implemented by the NIA.
 
Solar panel-powered pumps are now scattered within BALIKSAKA's farmlands providing water to around 30 to 40 hectares of farmlands.
 
"The size of our fields are more or less 80 hectares but at least now, we can easily plant vegetables and high-valued crops such as fruit-bearing trees," says Rey.
 
"Way back, our farmers had no choice but to get water from canals but now due to the irrigation facility we can easily plant vegetables and fruits," she remarks as she thanks the national government during the formal turnover of the facility.
 
From sourcing water from waterways to solar-powered irrigation, BFAI has come a long way with their dragon fruit, mango, coconut, rambutan and pineapple plantations which all generate income for the farmers.
 
Moving forward, Rey says that the farmers' group hopes to venture into agri-tourism through a demo-farm, offering farm tours and seminars in an effort to impart their acquired knowledge.
 
"Of course we will still look forward to government intervention to help us and guide us along the way," Rey concludes.
 
While BALIKSAKA farmers anticipate that they will be needing more government support in this future endeavor, there seems to be no way else but up.

About the Author

Kier Gideon Paolo Gapayao

Regional Editor

Region 4A

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