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Coffee Firm Promotes Water Impounding

The country’s leading coffee brand Nescafe is actively promoting the building of water impounding areas to combat the dry season in farms with no irrigation system.

Joel Lumagbas, head of Nestle Philippines Inc.’s Agricultural Services, reveals that his team at the Nestle Experimental and Development Farm (NEDF) is educating farmers in building artificial ponds in low-lying areas of the farm lots where rainwater naturally collects.

It’s cheap, easy to build, and better than doing nothing,” he says.
Water management is one of the major problems faced by farmers in areas mostly hit by dry weather conditions. In Mindanao, for example, the dry season starts as early as January and lasts until May. Luzon’s dry season, on the other hand, starts as early as December.

HOW IT IS DONE.
Lumagbas says that the excavated areas to be turned into artificial ponds should be lined with polyethylene or hardened clay, whichever is most available, from the bottom up to two meters past the lip. This helps prevent water seeping out for easier collection.

“Polyethylene liners, the same materials used in plastic mulches, are the cheaper and sturdier choice. They are readily available in roll sheets in agricultural
supply stores across the country,” he adds.

The pond can start from as small as 5 by 12 meters at one meter deep per one hectare of farmland since Lumagbas says it takes at least 60 cubic meters of water per hectare of coffee to partially irrigate the crop.

SURVIVING THE DRY MONTHS.
“The idea is to water your crop just enough to survive the dry months, says Lumagbas. He adds that they usually advise farmers to ask their local government units to provide bulldozers if there is a need for bigger projects.

“Otherwise, it’s good old bayanihan labor,” Lumagbas says.

As a bonus, Lumagbas says farmers can choose to raise tilapia or catfish or freshwater eels in the pond for additional income.

Established in 1994, NEDF in Tagum, Davao del Norte, serves as the hub of Nescafe’s agricultural research and training activities. Through its expert agronomists, the NEDF continually conducts trials and experiments to discover and develop better techniques of growing coffee. Guided by the results of its research studies, the NEDF develops and propagates Robusta coffee planting materials such as coffee seeds, rooted cuttings, and ready-to-plant seedlings. These are all made available to interested farmers at cost.