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Role of irrigation systems in tackling drought threat

By Paulo DS. Papa

In a press briefing, Engr. Gaudencio De Vera, the regional manager of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), underscored the potential of irrigation systems not only in enhancing agricultural output but also in bolstering electricity and potable water supplies.

However, De Vera emphasized that the effectiveness of these systems depends on the availability of sufficient water from their sources.

De Vera disclosed that, in response to the looming threat of drought due to last year’s El Niño phenomenon, the NIA is prepared to augment electric and water supplies as needed. He said that the agency now incorporates hydropower plants and water distribution lines in the designs of new irrigation systems, contingent upon the adequacy of water from the source.

The regional manager underscored the important requirement for the water source to generate enough water for electricity and additional household water supplies. The strategic integration aims to address the anticipated drought conditions expected from January to June of this year.

Moreover, De Vera clarified changes in the payment structure for irrigation service fees, noting that rice farmers are now authorized to pay these fees directly to farmers’ or irrigators’ associations. This shift occurred after former President Rodrigo Duterte abolished the NIA’s collection of irrigation service fees from rice farmers.

De Vera emphasized that farmers’ associations are entrusted with the responsibility to receive and manage these payments, as they are mandated to maintain the irrigation machines provided by the NIA.

The fee, amounting to up to P2,000 per hectare, is crucial for sustaining the operations and functionality of the irrigation machines, ensuring uninterrupted service and the ability to cover electricity costs associated with their operation.

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