Irrigation systems vital for D.R. agriculture
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the August 10 print edition of Caribbean Business.
By El Dinero
SANTO DOMINGO, D.R. — Irrigation systems help utilize water rationally and adequately, especially in agricultural production, because they aid in providing the required amount of water for each growing process. Everything depends on the technique used, but in the Dominican Republic, the systems are predominantly drip, flood and pressurized irrigation.
In the D.R., there exist 32 boards and eight independent associations for irrigation, for a total of 89,340 users, who are in charge of improving irrigation distribution functions and constitute the upper level of organizations for irrigation-system users.
As one of their baseline objectives, the boards aim for self-management that is democratic, fair and participatory with the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI by its Spanish initials) water transfer system through administrative management of operations and maintenance of the system.
The country’s Irrigation Boards comprise National Council of Irrigation Boards, the Irrigation Boards, Irrigation Board Associations and the Nucleus of Irrigation Farmers.
The Río Yuna Irrigation Farmers Board comprises 615 users, 17 irrigation zones, 49 core irrigation farmers, six associations, nine principal channels and 16 secondary channels. Their main objective is planning and distributing all municipal and surrounding irrigation systems’ water to benefit rice production. They manage some 35,400 acres of rice plantations.
In Bonao, where this board is located, cultivation is primarily of rice, coffee, cacao, plantain and tobacco, according to the technical report by the Río Yuna Irrigation Farmers Board.
Rice production in this municipality is about 175,000 quintals per harvest, without quantifying the amount used of the processed grain. To determine the fee for this board, there is a budget for construction-in-progress expenditures and an annual investment plan.
In this project, each component in the irrigation system is valued, including those improvised or unforeseen, the subsequent quantity of seeds sowed and number of users. In this way, the tariffs are applied to each task every year.
Through resolutions to the Irrigation Farmers Board of Río Yuna, the INDRHI legally transferred all supervision, operations, distribution, administration and control of the water and irrigation channels after it was founded Aug. 21, 2003.
Within the major channels that integrate with the irrigation system in this municipality, there is Yoboa I and Yuboa II, both of which irrigate an area of 6,137 tareas and have 100 users. Their supply source is Río Yuboa.
Los Barros is a channel supplied by Río Juma that irrigates an area of 896 tareas for 25 users. Yuna Bejucal and Yuna Cañabon are supplied by Río Yuna and irrigate 14,476 tareas for 195 users. Masipedro channel irrigates 2,864 tareas for 40 users. Jima-Jayaco irrigates 5,728 tareas for 65 users and Fula I and Fula II irrigate a combined 5,100 tareas for 62 users.
Investment in irrigation systems
In the past four years, the Dominican government, through INDRHI, achieved an investment of about RD $12.71 billion in maintenance operations across the network of channels in the Irrigation Districts; rehabilitated the irrigation and drainage channels; made electromechanic instillations and purchased equipment for irrigation system pumping stations. This investment benefited more than 2.5 million people, according to the 2012-2016 INDRHI data.
As of June 2017, the INDRHI has equity capital of about RD $34.01 billion, assets of RD $38.29 billion and liabilities of RD $4.28 billion.
In the operations and maintenance of the irrigation systems, through the 10 Irrigation Districts and the Haina-Higuamo operations unit, RD $3.04 billion was invested between 2012 and 2016. The investment, according to the entity, benefited 87,759 farmers who cultivate 4,183,953 tareas, which resulted in a significant impact on food production.
In the projects and work assigned to the INDRHI by D.R. President Danilo Medina’s “Surprise Visits” program, about RD $2.50 billion was invested. The works executed in this period for the irrigation system, in appropriate causes and electromechanic pumping facilities, include 10 projects finalized by contract amount of RD $212 million and an achieved investment of RD $154 million.
More than 27 projects are currently being executed, through the contracted amount of RD $957 million and the disbursed amount of RD $505 million. The disbursed amount, with resources allocated to the INDRHI, were RD $659 million for executed projects and projects underway.
During the four years in the Azua II Agricultural Development-Pueblo Viejo project, which manages the channels for the Ysura irrigation system’s network of wells, they achieved an investment of about RD $1.52 billion.
According to Gilberto Reynoso’s book “The Contrast Between Availability & Demand for Water Per Province,” water demand for irrigated agriculture in the country amounted to 80%, while 12% was for human consumption and the remaining 8% was distributed for ecological actions such as tourism and industry.
This contrasts with availability and global demand, in which 20% is intended for agriculture and about 60% for human consumption. About 70% of the country’s irrigated area is on the Atlantic side, 26.8% on the Caribbean side and 8.4% by Lake Enriquillo.