Source:  Department of Agriculture

Thousands of Tarlac farmers tilling over 34,000 hectares are bound to benefit next year and beyond with the completion of the Balog-Balog Irrigation Multipurpose Project (BIMP) phase 1 by year-end.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has instructed the National Irrigation Administration to fast-track the project which will irrigate a total of 34,410 hectares (21,935 hectares of new farmlands and 12,475 hectares of rehabilitated areas) in Tarlac City and eight towns (La Paz, Gerona, Pura, Ramos, Capas, Paniqui, Bamban and Concepcion).

The BIMP phase 1 will put to productive use farmlands that were previously covered by lahar from Mt. Pinatubo.

The DA chief made the commitment during last week’s two town hall meetings with Tarlac farmers and local executives: the first with 3rd District Rep. Jeci Lapus in Concepcion town; and later with Governor Victor Yap in Tarlac City.

Sec. Alcala said the NIA has allotted P349 million this year to repair and rehabilitate the BIMP, which sources water from the Bulsa River.

In addition to the BIMP, Sec. Alcala said the DA will conduct feasibility studies in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways to construct

small water impounding projects (SWIPs) in the towns of La Paz and Gerona.

For these initiatives, Governor Yap, Rep. Lapus, municipal mayors and farmer-leaders thanked President Aquino and Secretary Alcala for their strong support to transform Tarlac into one of the country’s major rice and vegetable producing provinces.

Sec. Alcala said the BIMP will be further developed as source of hydroelectric power in Luzon, under the proposed BIMP Phase 2. It is one of the several ‘big-ticket’ agriculture infrastructure projects proposed by the DA to be funded under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

The BIMP phase 2 entails the construction of a 113.5-meter dam across the Bulsa River, and installation of turbines to generate 43.5 megawatts of electricity. Total project cost is estimated at P18.5 billion.

Press release by the Department of Agriculture on April 27, 2011