As an executive order aimed at addressing the country’s water supply issues is being finalized by the government, a party-list group on Wednesday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to take an active role in ensuring that the agriculture sector will not suffer from water shortages arising from the effects of climate change.
“The current water crisis shows us the consequences of inaction. The World Bank says that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all water withdrawals globally—huwag natin hintayin na maging unmanageable ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumalaw,” said AGRI Party-list secretary general Benjie Martinez.
Martinez said the DA should provide a clear picture regarding the sector’s water requirements, particularly in identifying areas that are vulnerable to scarcity and lack of proper infrastructure to supply water.
He added that the DA should be open to ideas proposed by the academe and the private sector, who have not been lacking in suggestions on how to improve water governance in the country.
“The World Bank says that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all water withdrawals globally.”
“For a start, maybe we should be guided by suggestions that we establish more small water impounding areas and small irrigation systems, use current technologies that would make farming more water-efficient, and prioritize reforestation,” suggested Martinez.
According to the private sector-led Movement for Water Security, the country’s rain harvesting effort is at a mere 4 percent, as compared to India’s 60 percent. The country also has 5.7 million hectares of denuded forest and 300,000 lost mangrove hectares.
Martinez added that ideally, the DA should have already identified the same problems and has already crafted a strategy to address these.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates that 33 provinces will be affected by El Niño-caused drought.”
“We hope that the DA is not mute on this issue. Kailangan maipakita nila na mayroon silang naiisip na solusyon, and they are already taking steps to address water scarcity in our farms,” said Martinez.
Martinez added that in North Cotabato alone, a drought triggered by El Niño has inflicted P670 million pesos in crop damages.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates that 33 provinces will be affected by El Niño-caused drought. Unless we strive for better water governance, hindi lang tubig pang-ligo ang magiging problema natin, kundi pagkain ng buong bansa.”