P500 billion needed to develop irrigation systems

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The country needs about P500 billion to develop its national irrigation systems within 10 years, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

In a statement, Dar said the National Irrigation Administration (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.

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.

Dar suggested that public-private partnerships should be done to accelerate the construction of the needed irrigation systems within the next 10 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,” Dar said.

Dar urged the 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.

He also asked the agency to strengthen the management of communal irrigation systems by the irrigators’ associations with active engagement of local government units.

Meanwhile, the NIA was also directed 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.

The Agriculture Secretary said another high priority for NIA is the afforestation of watersheds 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 said 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,” Dar said.


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