Alcala orders NIA to hasten irrigation repairs

AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala urged the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to speed up the repair of major irrigation systems to further increase the country’s palay production towards self-sufficiency by 2013.

He issued the marching orders during the agency’s 2011 ‘command conference’ attended by regional managers and project directors, led by administrator Antonio S. Nangel at the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) main office, in Cabanatuan City , February 17.

Under the Aquino administration, government aims to produce over 21 million metric tons (MMT) or 13.7 MMT of rice by 2013, to attain 100 per self-sufficiency.

A civil engineer by profession, Sec. Alcala also asked the NIA regional managers and project directors to revise their previous repair estimates and prioritize irrigation systems that could immediately provide needed water to farmlands. Rehabilitation work entails simple repair and maintenance of irrigation canals and tributaries, while restoration involves major civil works like concreting of damaged portions of canal and dam structure.

“Let’s do our repair and restoration works at the most cost-efficient way, and subsequently deliver the needed irrigation water to additional farmlands,” the DA chief stressed.

He enjoined all the NIA regional managers and directors to diligently perform their respective tasks, as he will personally inspect some irrigation systems being repaired, and gather feedback from local officials and irrigators’ associations.

“Kailangan nating ibalik ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa gobyerno. Ang taumbayan po ay naghahanap na ng resulta (We need to regain the people’s trust on our government. They are now expecting results),” Alcala said.

For his part, NIA administrator Nangel said he is personally inspecting and overseeing ongoing repair and restoration of major irrigation systems in various parts of the country.

P12.8-B NIA 2011 Budget

This year, Alcala said the DA has allotted P12.79 billion, or 37 percent of the DA’s total budget, to enable NIA undertake several local and foreign-funded irrigation projects, including repair and restoration of national systems.

Altogether, the NIA projects programmed this year will irrigate an additional 156,000 hectares. At two croppings a year and an average yield of five tons of palay per hectare per season, said additional irrigated area will contribute at least 1.56 million tons of palay annually.

With the budget, NIA will be able to construct new systems that would irrigate 27,131 hectares; repair and rehabilitate existing systems, servicing 100,680 hectares; and restore old systems that will once again irrigate 28,290 hectares.

2012 Budget, ‘Frontloading’

During the meeting at UPRIIS, Sec. Alcala also asked the NIA regional managers and project directors to prepare soonest their respective 2012 budget. He said the DA budget deliberations will commence in first week of March.

He said he will also propose to President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to allow the DA frontload in 2012 and 2013 its total irrigation budget for the next six years or until 2016 years, so the NIA could complete all the major local and foreign-funded projects nationwide.

Also present during the NIA national conference were Nueva Ecija local officials led by Governor Aurelio Umali. Other DA officials also attended the meeting, led by undersecretary Antonio Fleta, assistant secretary Allan Umali, DA region 3 director Pedro Jerry Baliang, and director Ronilo Beronio of the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

After the meeting, Sec. Alcala inaugurated a farmers’ training center, named after President Aquino’s late grandfather, Benigno S. Aquino, Sr., who once served as DA Secretary in 1939 to 1941.

After UPRIIS, Alcala also visited three other DA agencies in Nueva Ecija: the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Philippine Center for Post harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), and Philippine Carabao Center


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