P60 million irrigation project to benefit the Aetas in Zambales

With a new irrigation system, members of the Aeta community in Barangay Villar in Botolan, Zambales now have more reason to return to their ancestral land after being displaced for years after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
The irrigation system—featuring a novel ram pump and water reservoir—is part of several agricultural projects involving equipment and input totaling P60 million that the Department of Agriculture has initiated for the benefit of the Aetas or indigenous peoples (IPs), farmers, rural folk, and local government units in Zambales. Secretary Proceso J. Alcala announced this during his visit to Zambales on March 23 and 24, 2012.
The ram pump will irrigate some 200 hectares, benefiting more than 890 Aeta families, who plant mostly root crops such as taro (Luko variety) and sweet potato; and vegetables like squash, tomato and eggplant; and fruits such as banana. Secretary Alcala will also provide the Aeta community with two carabaos, complete with farm implements.
The DA chief said the bulk of the P60-million allotment will be used to construct and repair eight communal or pump irrigation projects (CIPs/PIPs, respectively), which include the Naglabusan PIP in San Marcelino; East Danita CIP in San Antonio; Lipay-Cabatuan and Marangla PIPs in Iba; Libertador PIP in Candelaria; Grullo and Paete-Balincaguing CIPs, in San Narciso; and Salaza-San Lorenzo CIP, serving Masinloc and Palauig.
Secretary Alcala also attended three separate forums with farmers, fisherfolk, and local government officials in the towns of Botolan and San Felipe, where he distributed various farm and fishing implements and inputs to farmers’ and fisherfolk’s groups.
He said the DA will also establish a community seed bank where farmers can source their seed requirements if their crops would be damaged by typhoons.
In addition, the DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), will put up a crab hatchery. He instructed BFAR Region 3 Director Remedios Ongtangco to finish the hatchery before the end of April.
During a series of dialogues with the IPs, farmers and local government officials, led by Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr., Secretary Alcala said “we would like to sit down with you to fine tune a master development roadmap for Zambales that will complement the DA’s road map for the entire country. This way, our joint programs will be effectively implemented and reach the right beneficiaries.”