Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A drop of life against the drying land

A drop of life against the drying land 
A PBSP exclusive

In picturesque Bohol, poverty hides behind rolling green hills and white sand beaches. In this province where livelihood is centered on rice production, PBSP helps empower the underprivileged by providing them with the tools for better productivity. One of these tools is a humble irrigation system that has also helped the farmers withstand El Niño's harsh onslaught.

The small water impounding system (SWIS) is heaven-sent for Exequil Bahalla and 13 other farmers of Barangay Katipunan, Carmen. It did not only help them send their children to school and construct better houses; it has freed them from the whims of the country's erratic seasons. 

Sa karon na naa na ning impounding system, maka-advance na mi og pananom sa among mga humay aron sa primerong semana sa Pebrero makapa-flowering na mi sa among mga tanom. Tungod ani, mas nadali ang amu-ang produksyon (With the SWIS, we can already plant rice in advance. This allows our crops to flower in the first week of February and harvest at a sooner date, allowing us to plant more crops for better productivity),” Bahalla says.

With the SWIS, rainwater is collected and stored, enough to establish a mini-dam that serves more than 10 hectares of rice farms for irrigation. This gives the farmers enough water to plant and harvest rice outside the rainy season and despite the dry spell brought on by the El Niño phenomenon.

The SWIS is one of the components of PBSP's Bohol Area Resource Management (ARM) program. PBSP also provided capability training to equip farmers with the necessary skills to form an irrigators' association and became the stewards of the SWIS.

Ang nakanindot ani nga programa kay fitted ang project sa ilang panginabuhi ug panginahanglan. Ang Boholanan people dili sad hesitant mu-accept og mga training kung makita nila sa maka-ayo sa ilaha (It is a very good project because it meets the needs of the farmers. The Boholanon people also do not hesitate to accept any training when they know it can help them),” says Maria Buñao, then the community organizer of the Bohol ARM.

PBSP's technical assistance to the farmers already spelled success. The Carmen Multi-Purpose Cooperative, where Bahalla and his neighbors belong to, became one of the top 50 cooperatives in 2009. It is a stark contrast to the cooperative's beginnings, where they started with no offices, capital, and the technical means to organize themselves. 

Dili man gud dole out ang project. Mao nang ma-feel nilang mga farmers that they are part of the project ug sila ang direkta na maka-benepisyo sa project (This isn't simply a dole out project so the farmers felt more involved in its implementation and knew that they're the direct beneficiaries of the project),”  Buñao adds.

A total of 40 units of SWIS have already been established in Bohol irrigating around 760 hectares of land and benefiting more than 800 people. Help PBSP implement SWIS in more farming communities in the country, contact pbsp@pbsp.org.ph.