House approves free irrigation for farmers

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that seeks to provide free irrigation for farmers.

House Bill 5670 or the Free Irrigation Act was approved last May before the chamber went on a two-month break on June 2.

The bill aims to pursue a genuine agricultural development strategy by providing support services for farmers, with the end in view of raising their productivity and improving their access to markets.

The House leadership under Speaker Pantaleon Alarez promised that the government would “promote and institutionalize irrigation systems that are free, effective, suitable, applicable and efficient to achieve genuine agricultural development.” 

Qualified beneficiaries include farmers, irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives.

Owners or operators of corporate farms, plantations, fishponds and other non-agricultural crop users drawing water or using drainage facilities of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) are not qualified beneficiaries of the program.

The construction, repair and maintenance of irrigation systems will be included in the annual budget of the NIA under the General Appropriations Act.

Under the bill, the NIA will provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and local government units.

The NIA, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, farmers and other stakeholders, will craft the implementing rules and regulations within three months once the bill is enacted into law. 

President Duterte promised to provide free irrigation to farmers to boost their productivity and ensure food security.

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