Iloilo reservoir to boost rice output | Inquirer Business

Iloilo reservoir to boost rice output

/ 10:29 AM February 15, 2024

MANILA, Philippines  —The P19.7-billion second stage of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) in Iloilo province, touted as the first large-scale water reservoir in the Philippines outside Luzon, is seen helping bring the country closer to rice self-sufficiency targets when it goes online by mid-2025.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) which is undertaking the JRMP Stage 2, said that the overall physical accomplishment as of January was pegged at 74 percent while the financial accomplishment was at 70 percent.

The project cost was previously tagged at P13.4 billion, but the National Economic and Development Authority in July 2023 approved requests for extension of implementation period, loan validity, increase in cost, reallocation of loan proceeds, and change in scope and design.


READ: Drilon: Jalaur mega dam completion pivotal to address PH food security


South Korea, through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of the Export-Import Bank of Korea, provided funding for the project.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday they expect JRMP Stage 2 to be completed within the year and fully operational by mid-2025.

Tiu Laurel said it will greatly contribute to efforts related to increasing food production and helping improve farmers’ lives.

The country’s rice self-sufficiency level reached 77 percent in 2022, lower than 81.5 percent in 2021 and 85 percent in 2020, based on data from the statistics agency. This has been on a downtrend for three consecutive years.

Through the Masagana program, the Department of Agriculture is striving to achieve the target of 97 percent self-sufficiency in rice by 2028.

Palay output hit a record 20.06 million metric tons (MT) in the past year, an increase of 1.5 percent from 19.76 million MT in 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).


READ: PH palay output in 2023 tipped to hit record high

Output volume in 2023 also surpassed the previous record of 19.96 million MT reached in 2021.

Irrigation, power generation

The US Department of Agriculture, however, is expecting the Philippines to produce 12.5 million MT this year from 12.625 million MT due to the dry weather caused by the El Niño phenomenon, characterized by below-normal rainfall resulting in lower rice yields.

The JRMP is designed to irrigate 9,500 hectares of rainfed farms on top of the existing 22,340 hectares. It is projected to increase rice output by 71 percent to 338,000 metric tons.

“Aside from providing water supply to rained farms, JRMP II also has a 6.6-megawatt power generation, bulk water, fishery, tourism, flood control, housing for indigenous people, and carbon sequestration components,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

JRMP’s canal system extends 80 kilometers, featuring three dams and a hydroelectric power plant.

Its watershed and buffer zone management involves 17,290 hectares that will be reforested and absorb carbon dioxide to generate carbon credits that could be sold and help fund other projects, the DA said.

The Jalaur River Basin, the second-largest river basin in Panay Island, provides irrigation to Iloilo which is considered the food basket and rice granary of Western Visayas.

Some 23 towns and two cities in Iloilo, as well as 25,000 farmers and 4,500 indigenous people, are expected to benefit from this project.

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The DA noted Iloilo is the fifth-largest rice producer nationwide, trailing behind Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan and Cagayan.

TAGS: Agriculture, dam, Iloilo, NIA, rice production

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