DA, NIA to work together to speed up irrigation dev’t
“The National Irrigation Administration (NIA), under the Department of Agriculture (DA), will vigorously work to put our country’s irrigation systems to the next level,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said as he welcomed the agency’s return to the OneDA Family.
During the agri chief’s meeting with the NIA management on May 13, 2022, he said that with the agency’s improved coordination with other DA units, there will be more accelerated development of various land and water facilities.
“From here on, our programs and strategies must be synchronized, and must address long-standing risks from natural calamities such as droughts and typhoons. All factors leading to better integration to optimize all available resources will be at play. We will do this to significantly improve production and service delivery especially to our farmers,” Dar said.
For 2022, NIA has a budget of P31.469 billion for general administrative and support, support to operations, irrigation systems restoration, and irrigation systems development. The agency has 16 regional irrigation offices, two integrated irrigation systems, 51 irrigation management offices, and 15 project management offices.
According to Dar, NIA’s current budget is not enough to cover about 1.1 million hectares in need of national irrigation systems development, while also repairing existing ones. According to him, about P500 billion will be needed for the said development and suggested a public-private partnership to accelerate the construction of the needed irrigation systems within the next ten years.
“We are a net importing country because we have neglected our agriculture. Our agriculture is under-budgeted, has been under-invested even by the private sector. You have to bring together public government support with private investment,” he said.
He requested NIA management led by Administrator Ricardo Visaya to continue improving the existing national irrigation systems and make them more functional with better design and higher level of efficiency.
Dar also asked NIA to strengthen the management of communal irrigation systems by the irrigators’ associations with active engagement of local government units.
In addition, the agri chief directed NIA to sustain its early planting initiative, promote synchronized planting, accelerate the development of the national irrigation system including drainage, and retrofit existing NIA-managed dams to include cascading dams for flood control, agri-fishery production, and tourism.
According to him, another high priority for NIA is the afforestation of watershed of NIA-managed dams.
“We need to make changes in major policies which involve investments, technology and innovation development, and management approaches that will be effective in the current agricultural landscape. We will modernize irrigation zones across the country and allow more farmers, farmer-associations to benefit and enjoy this resource which has been deprived of them for the longest time,” Dar said.
He stressed that the goal is to make long-lasting contributions to guarantee food for every Filipino.
“We all have further deepened the reform in national irrigation for agriculture, through effective cooperation mechanisms to promote and develop the country’s irrigation system,” he said. (Gumamela Celes Bejarin, DA-AFID)