ILOILO CITY, May 9 (PNA) -– The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has started construction of almost P1 billion project cost of a small reservoir irrigation project (SRIP) in the upper farming area of Barangay Nueva Invencion in the municipality of Barotac Viejo in northern Iloilo.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was here Thursday, said the project is expected to irrigate some 2,050 hectares of farmlands that include new area of 265 hectares and restoration of 459 hectares including 1,326 hectares as area for rehabilitation.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and fifth district Congressman Niel Tupas Jr. led in the cornerstone laying of the reservoir irrigation project on May 8 designed to irrigate 2,050 hectares during the wet season and another 2,050 hectares in the dry season. The project will be completed by June 2016.

The project consists of a dam with earth embankment of 27 meters, drainage area, spillway of ungated Ogee type, diversion and irrigation conduits and catchment and storage areas.

Alcala said the project is the answer to the farmers cry for a sustainable irrigation facility as northern Iloilo is currently suffering from the severe drought. Farming lands are mostly affected as the El Niño phenomenon is forecast to hit Panay island’s farms and food production areas.

Alcala said the irrigation project will almost double rice production in the area and generate several labor employment opportunities during the construction period specifically with unemployed farmers during the dry season.(PNA)