NIA to irrigate all available PHL farmlands

December 20, 2016 at 17:00

NIA to irrigate all available PHL farmlands

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is keen on providing irrigation to all arable lands in the country under the Duterte administration, according to its new chief.

“In total, we have only irrigated 57 percent of the total available lands for irrigation in the whole Philippines,” NIA Administrator Peter Tiu Laviña told reporters at the sidelines of the agency’s turn-over ceremony on December 14.

“So it means that our irrigation systems are not well-optimized. Our plan is to launch extensive irrigation projects to cover the remaining 43 percent,” Laviña added.

According to a NIA report on the status of its irrigation development, there are about 3.2 million hectares of irrigable area in the country. As of December 31, 2015, the agency has covered 53 percent of the total available irrigable area or around 1.73 million hectares, according to the NIA report.

“And most of our irrigation systems are suffering from different problems. Most of which are already old, some are experiencing siltation problems, especially in Luzon and some parts of the Visayas, which were affected by typhoons,” Laviña said.

“Our second thrust is really to clean the existing ones [irrigation systems], rehabilitate and restore others so that they can service to farmers, especially to our rice farmers,” he added.

Laviña disclosed that the agency is still studying and crafting the final guidelines and policies for the implementation of the government’s “free irrigation” starting next year.

“We are still studying the policy. Definitely, we will follow the presidential directive, which is to provide free irrigation,” he said.

“Definitely, the poor rice farmers will get free irrigation service. However, for those who are using our irrigation systems and are capable of helping to maintain them, they should contribute for the maintenance of the systems,” Laviña added.

He disclosed that some banana farms and even fish ponds tap NIA’s irrigation systems.

“If they have the capacity to maintain the irrigation system, they should pay a free or contribution for our maintenance,” Laviña said, adding that irrigators’ associations would collect the fees, not the NIA.

Under Republic Act 360, or the NIA charter, the agency is mandated to collect irrigation services fees from farmers as payment for irrigation water delivered by the agency. The agency attached to the Office of the President uses the money for the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems in the country.


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