NIA welcomes probe into project implementation



16 June 2012



The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) welcomed the proposal of some peasant groups to come up with an investigation team to look into the agency’s operations and project implementation, Victoria Paramio, manager of NIA public affairs and information staff, said.

The Rice Watch and Action Network, the National Rice Farmers Council and the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan earlier expressed fears that the country may not attain rice self-sufficiency in 2013 despite the huge amount appropriated by the government in agriculture and rice sectors.

The budget for irrigation reached P24.4 billion this year and is expected to slightly decrease to P22.4 billion in 2013.

“According to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, from 16.8 million metric tons (MT) of rice in 2008, production dropped to 16.6 million MT in 2009, and dropped more to 15.77 million MT in 2010. It only rose to 16.6 million MT last year. But, it is important to note that this increase in production happened during the wet season when irrigation is not really needed,” the peasant groups said.

“In the face of all this, we ask to investigate the NIA and conduct auditing of irrigation from 2007 to the present,” they added.

Paramio said the NIA’s mandate was “to develop irrigation in support of rice production, therefore, increasing rice production is not our mandate. We only support it by  constructing and operating irrigation systems. When our service areas increases, the harvestable areas also increase.”

She related that upon studying the impact of building irrigation systems on rice production, NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel has adopted programs on increasing rice production such as Rice Ratooning and the “5-in-2” cropping.
Nangel has also directed all NIA regional managers to closely coordinate with other government agencies involved in rice production to ensure a holistic approach to boosting the rice yield.

He has also instructed all NIA regional and field office managers to fast-track all construction, restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation systems so that the hectarage projected to be irrigated can be attained, thus increasing the harvestable area.                   





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