TACLOBAN CITY, (PNA) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has initially tagged seven towns in Samar province in the implementation of water storage technology developed by Indian experts.

Dubbed as Yamang Lupa (land resources) Program (YLP), the project combines the best practices in soil, water, and nutrient and crop management to enhance productivity of selected crops by at least 20 percent.

In Samar province, listed as pilot areas are the towns of Sta. Rita, Basey, Pinabacdao, Calbiga, Hinabangan, Paranas and Motiong.

In the next three years, the initiative targets 10,000 hectares of rain-fed areas in Eastern Visayas, said Elvira Torres, DA regional technical director for research and regulations.

The project is being patterned from the successful Bhoochetana project of Karnataka State, India from 2009 up to the present. Bhoochetana is an Indian word for soil rejuvenation.

“The program also intends to build the capacity of farmers to store water during wet season and use what they have stored during dry season.

Water impounding has been practiced by Samar farmers, but they need more technical assistance,” Torres said.

The Bhoochetana project was developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and was piloted in Karnataka, India.

“The program also intends to build the capacity of farmers and researchers in managing the natural resources,” Torres said.

The program is being piloted in three provinces – Quezon in Luzon; Zamboanga in Mindanao; and Samar in Visayas.

YLP is one of the farm department’s strategy to mitigate the impact of prolonged dry season or the El Niño phenomenon.

The state weather bureau predicted that prolonged dry season may persist for nine months starting in June and which may peak during the last quarter of 2014. It will end in the first quarter of 2015.

More than 81,000 hectares of rain fed rice farms in Eastern Visayas were considered as highly vulnerable to the impacts of El Niño.

Of the 81,096 hectares of areas without irrigation supply, 18,699 are in Leyte; 1,158 hectares in Southern Leyte; 18,019 hectares in Samar; 15,235 hectares in Eastern Samar and 27,984 hectares in Northern Samar. (PNA)