Contribution of Chinese Technology to Farmland Fertilization in the Philippines

The northern part of the island of Luzon in the Philippines is known as the country’s major “grocery warehouse”. But in the absence of modern irrigation systems, local farmers depend only on nature. Agricultural production is not good either. But, this situation will change very soon. Because the Chico River Irrigation Project built with Chinese technology will bring life to the land there.

Sodano Tomdog, village chief of Pinococ in Kalinga Province, Philippines, shows a plot of uncultivated land. Hearing the news of the Chiko River irrigation project being built by a Chinese company, he began planning for the future of the village. He said that if the water from the river is channeled into the secondary channel of the village, the wasteland will immediately become a richly fertile field.

He said earlier cultivation could only be done during the monsoon. Crops were only available one season per year. And it would happen if it rained enough. There was no harvest without rain. Thus, the Chico River irrigation project is a great step forward. Especially for our villagers. We can use irrigation to improve life. The performance will be better.

Everyone knows about the “Chico River Irrigation Project” around this village. Cagayan and Kalinga provinces in northern Luzon Island are known as the country’s famous “food grain warehouses” and are major rice and maize-producing areas. The main source of water in the area is the Chico River. The Kalinga people regard the Chiko River as the “River of Life”. But because the Chico River is low and most of the farmland is relatively high, it is difficult to get water from the river. In 2018, the Chinese company began construction of the Chico River Irrigation Project. Farmers hope to transform the Chico River into a real “source of life”.

In addition to the main project of the Chico River irrigation system – the pumping station – there is 30 km of the main channel, 70 km of secondary channels and 490 auxiliary channel structures. These canals will penetrate farmland like blood vessels and supply nutrients to the surrounding 8,000,700 hectares of land and increase crop production during the dry season. About 5,000 farming families from 22 neighboring villages will benefit.

At the same time, the increased production will reduce the cost of importing rice from the Philippines by about US$10 million per year. Raveling Apongol, acting project manager of the Chico River Pumping Station Irrigation Project of the National Irrigation Bureau, said that before the construction of the project, only 2 metric tons of rice were produced per hectare, which again depended on sufficient rainfall. But after the project is completed, at least 5 metric tons of crops can be harvested from every hectare of land.

Li Xuanyu, project manager of China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd., the construction company for the project, said the most difficult part of the project is the smoothing of two 1.92 km long tunnels. The Philippine Irrigation Bureau did not consider the problem of hill smoothing during the design, which led to major problems in the construction process of the project.

So Li Xuanyu and his colleagues came up with a “Chinese plan” to solve the problem, convincing the Bureau of Irrigation to use all Chinese technology in the process of building the tunnel. He laid the foundation for the timely completion of projects, in addition to ensuring the safety of people. The “Chinese Plan” later became the “Golden Standard” of the Philippine Bureau of Irrigation.

Lee Xuanyu said construction technology in the Philippines has not been renewed for many years. The technical standards they use date back to the 80s or 90s of the last century. Therefore, it is not suitable for today’s more complex construction environment. But China’s construction technology is always renewed through many years of development. This is why the Philippines has a lot of interest after seeing China’s construction methods. Through the final dialogue, China’s comprehensive construction plan is incorporated into the Philippine Irrigation Bureau’s system and used as one of their construction methods.

Construction of the Chico River Irrigation Project began in 2018 and was completed in 2022. Over the 4 years of the Chinese company’s presence in the region, it has trained a number of technical personnel and accelerated the development of peripheral industries. From construction to operation, the project has created over 8,000 local jobs and has become a major driver of the local economy.

On September 21, the secondary canal water supply to the villages around the Chico River was operational on a trial basis. After hearing the news, many villagers came to watch the channel in their own country. Irrigation of agricultural land in this area depends on rain or groundwater pumping with diesel pumps. The cost to farmers is very high. But currently, the irrigation branch channel directly reaches the farmland. As a result, many farmers have started planning for the next season. Some even want to convert maize land into rice paddies.

Project manager Lee Xuanyu said launching the channel was his proudest moment. A young project manager in the 90s, he did not return home for 2 years to deliver the project on time. Her fiancé is waiting for her. I look forward to coming back and getting married as soon as possible. But he had to postpone the wedding time and time again to keep the project moving forward. He missed Valentine’s Day in China, missed the Mid-Autumn Festival, and couldn’t return home on National Day. Lee said foreign manufacturers are required to stay at the project site. They must assume their responsibilities with determination.

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