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You are here: Home News Blog Mindanao News Blog Irrigation upgrade in Central Mindanao boosts incomes, fosters unity

Irrigation upgrade in Central Mindanao boosts incomes, fosters unity

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MATALAM, NORTH COTABATO—Infrastructure projects don’t have to be “big ticket” in order to have an impact. Relatively small, but strategic infrastructure improvements can have a dramatic impact on productivity and thus can create livelihood opportunities in underdeveloped rural areas. For example, an irrigation canal upgrade implemented by the Matalam municipal government in partnership with USAID’s [...]

A Canal Runs Through It

Community irrigation systems, such as these built by USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program in barangays in Datu Paglas (left photo) and Shariff Mastura (right), in central Mindanao, have helped to increase local rice harvests. The GEM Program, which is implemented under the oversight of the Mindanao Development Authority, has constructed more than 1,100 barangay infrastructure projects, or “BIPs” in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, in partnership with municipal and city governments. GEM

MATALAM, NORTH COTABATO—Infrastructure projects don’t have to be “big ticket” in order to have an impact. Relatively small, but strategic infrastructure improvements can have a dramatic impact on productivity and thus can create livelihood opportunities in underdeveloped rural areas. For example, an irrigation canal upgrade implemented by the Matalam municipal government in partnership with USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program is helping farmers in this Central Mindanao community to improve rice production and, consequently, their incomes. “Malaking tulong ang project na ito sa amin [This project is a big help to us],” said rice farmer Nashrudin Kandalayang, who is a board member of the Malamote Irrigators Service Association, the project’s promary beneficiary. Before the project was built, Kandalayang recalled, farmers were experiencing low yields, as the aging Malamote irrigation system suffered from high seepage loss and frequent siltation. “Mahina ang daloy ng tubig at laging barado ang canal. Kailangan araw-araw linisin [The water flow was weak and the canal always clogged. We had to clean it every day],” he related. The municipal government of Matalam submitted a proposal to the GEM Program, asking for help in upgrading the irrigation canal system. Under its Barangay Infrastructure Project (BIP), GEM works in partnership with local governments to construct community infrastructure—such as boat landings, post-harvest facilities, water systems, trading centers, barangay bridges and footbridge—in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, under the oversight of the Mindanao Development Authority. As its counterpart contribution to the irrigation project, the Matalam municipality committed to shoulder 25 percent of the project’s total cost, while the association committed to maintain and operate the facility. The GEM Program concreted a 1.16-kilometer section of the irrigation system in Barangay Central Malamote, and constructed turn-outs and road crossings to allow small farm equipment, such as hand tractors and threshers, to cross the canal. The project was completed in November 2009. According to Kandalayang, the project has been a boon to local rice farmers, who are now enjoying significantly higher yields. Prior to construction they would harvest only about 45 to 50 sacks of palay per hectare. Following the irrigation system’s improvement, he said, farmers are harvesting from 95 to 120 sacks per hectare. “Dumoble ang aming kita [We have doubled our incomes],” he said, adding that most of the association’s 150 members had been able to purchase new farming equipment with their additional income. He and his wife plan to use their earnings for the education of their three children. Kandalayang said that the improved irrigation has also helped to dispel tension within the community. “Dati nag-aaway away ang mga miyembro dahil kulang ang tubig. Ngayon, maganda na ang samahan at nagkakasundo na ang lahat [Before, members used to have altercations because of the low water supply. Now, they get along very well].” The irrigation facility is among the 123 infrastructure projects the GEM Program has built with local farmers in the province of North Cotabato, a demonstration of the continuing commitment of both the Philippine and U.S. Governments to foster peace and development in Mindanao. GEM

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