Developing the Kimbutan Watershed Management of the Kimbutan Microhydro Power Enterprise is one of the major activity of the Kimbutan upland farmers, as this will spell out a big difference for the sustainability of the MHP in the long run.
As such, firstly is a brief background of the critical watershed condition of the Kimbutan watershed catchment area that affects the water supply of the microhydro power project, and secondly how the Kimbutan upland farmers together with SIBAT will address watershed degradation through their proposed community-based watershed management plan.
CRITICAL STATE OF KIMBUTAN WATERSHED
Gradual forest denudation and land degradation is an alarming condition caused by continuously expanding swidden farming, charcoal and firewood gathering, and previous large scale deforestation by logging concessionaires. Deforestation and land degradation --- manifested by soil erosion and river sedimentation, landslides and muddy roads during rainy season makes the road leading to the community difficult to trek and worse, non-passable. The soil becomes unproductive during dry season because of insufficient water supply for irrigation of their upland farms. During strong typhoons, the ensuing landslides put heavy damage to the crops as what happened during the onslaught of recent Typhoons Pedring and Quiel last 2011.
Upland Agricultural Production. The Kimbutan villagers' main economic activity is agricultural production of food crops such as vegetables, herbs and spices in upland areas. Vegetable varieties include cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, Baguio beans, sweet peas, carrots, squash, yakon (local rootcrops), among others. Herbs and spices varieties include ginger, bell pepper, celery, tomato, lasona (sibuyas Ilocano), among others. Rice and corn are being cultivated mostly for household consumption. Rice is the main staple for the community while corn is usually used as animal feeds. All households are into vegetable and herbs and spices production with varied degree of agricultural output depending on the size of lands that each is cultivating and the capacity to produce capital for farming inputs. Costly chemical-intensive farming and critical ecological situation. Commercial farming that is capital-intensive is the current practice in the community. As proven by studies and experiences across the country, this farming method is so costly that it leaves the farmer a net income of less than the expected income, or even nil/negative if the crops are damaged by natural causes. And as usual, poor farmers always rely to usury offered by, in the case of Kimbutan, the traders who have the needed capital. These loans are almost always charged with high interest rates, leading to the disadvantageous situation of the farmers as they need to pay more considering the less income that they are already expecting. In most cases, the traders financed the inputs of the farmer's production. In exchange, the farmer will directly sell the produce to the trader in a much lower price than the prevailing market price, thus, lessening the potential income of the farmer. Another cause of the chemical-based farming is the degradation of the soil that affects its fertility, consequently, leading to lower production in the long run.
Addressing the current degradation of the watershed is found to be urgent, more so as sustainability of the water source of the 7 kW microhydro project primarily depends on the watershed.
One of the main indicators of the watershed degradation has been the non-operation of the microhydro for three months every year which started in 2008. This indicates that there is a declining water supply in the locality that has not happened before when the microhydro was installed in 2003. As such, the Kimbutan farmers have firmly resolved to address watershed degradation through coming up with a community-based watershed management plan. Due to the urgency of the watershed problem, series of meetings were held facilitated by SIBAT staff. In the community meeting held last September 29, 2012 attended by 15 officers and members of the BKDFO and was able to come up with their own community-based watershed management plan. Another follow-up community meeting was held to plan out immediate activities last February 2, 2013 that includes developing the microhydro power enterprise scheme wherein the Peace Equity Foundation will provide a grant-loan mix for the technical upgrading and developing of the microhydro power enterprise.
Furthermore, as per the local government code of the Phils. RA No. 7160 enacted in 1991, the LGU can be an institutional support mechanism for the proposed community-based watershed management project. The LGU is mandated with certain forest management functions, specifically in management of and control over communal forests with an area of 50 km2 or less, establishment of tree parks and greenbelts and the implementation of the integrated social forestry (ISF).
Hydraulic Ram Pumps. SIBAT has experience with hydraulic ram pumps and believe this technology aligns well with the irrigation needs of the Kimbutan farmers' agricultural production. Hydraulic ram pump is an established appropriate technology, wherein a mechanical water pump uses hydraulic pressure from a body of water to pump water to higher ground. When used effectively, ram pumps can operate with little maintenance for a long period of time and SIBAT propose using this technology downstream from the MHP water intake to distribute water for irrigation around Kimbutan agriculture areas. The ram pump design and installation will be integrated with the proposed MHP upgrade design that will aim to optimize the water shed management of the surrounding Kimbutan area.
KIMBUTAN WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PLAN
Herein is a brief description of the Kimbutan watershed management plan, primarily focused on rehabilitating the watershed catchment area critical to the operation of the MHP power enterprise that is being developed as a strategic community development plan. Watershed Management: Project Goals and Objectives. The main goal of the project is to develop and implement the Kimbutan community-based watershed management project that will rehabilitate the forest ecosystem of the critical areas of the watershed thereby preserving and optimizing water resources utilized for the MHP and their agricultural upland farmlots.
There were four specific objectives with corresponding activities identified for addressing watershed management, namely:
a. To enhance and build capacities of the Kimbutan community on watershed management and upland sustainable development through conduct of capacity building trainings and practicum on: Watershed assessment, planning and management Integrated community seedbank/nursery establishment Agroforestry and sloping agricultural land technologies Upland Diversified & Integrated Farming System (DIFS)
b. To initiate the reforestation of the MHP watershed catchment area of the 7 kW microhydro project with indigenous tree/agroforestry species. Nursery establishment for indigenous/endemic species (i.e., buwa-bunga, yantok, tewe/ballay, alumet, narra, White Lauan, fruit trees-), target for the first year: (1) 1,000 indigenous trees will be planted in the critical areas of the MHP watershed catchment near the Dangui creek (water source of MHP) and (2) 4,000 indigenous agroforestry species will be planted by the 24 households in their upland farm lots.
c. To integrate hydraulic ram pump technology to complement the MHP component of the project and increase watershed management by providing water for irrigation To introduce and train the PO about ram pump technology and how it can benefit the community and proposed water-shed management project Identification of suitable locations and installation of two or more hydraulic ram pumps for irrigation purposes PO operator training on hydraulic ramp pump operation and maintenance
d. To establish the multi-stakeholder cooperation for Kimbutan community-based watershed management. Production of IEC materials on watershed, biodiversity conservation, and MHP Networking, consultations and dialogues with the local government units (LGU - DENR, DA and NCIP).
Watershed Management Team.
The project management team will be composed of SIBAT project team in complementation of the BKFDO Watershed Management Committee. The SIBAT project composite team will be composed of a project manager, 2 renewable energy engineers, agroforester, community organizer and administrative support staff. Barangay Kimbutan Farmers Development Organization: Watershed Management Committee will be composed of the following members: Rudy Lasoy, Benjie Besso, Carame Pacliwan, Gemma Amsahan, Nardo Donguis, Juan Balang, Gabriel Besso, Francis Donguis and Jean Alejandro.
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