NIA to construct more irrigation systems in 2018

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will use its P40.8-billion budget for 2018 to fast-track the construction of dams and the rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems to expand the country’s rice-harvest areas.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget, which included the allocation of the NIA. The NIA’s budget for next year is 6 percent higher than the P38.3 billion it received from the national government this year.

NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya said the bulk of its budget, or about P26.8 billion, will be used for the restoration, repair and rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems and construction and development of new irrigation systems.

“The increase in the NIA’s budget will fund the construction of our dams. We still have about 40.68 percent to be developed and we would like to fast-track the development to help achieve rice self-sufficiency,” Visaya said in a statement.

He added the House of Representatives’ approval of its 2018 budget will allow the NIA to implement larger-scale new projects, continuously conduct project feasibility studies and detailed engineering, provide adequate equipment support for operation and maintenance and protect watersheds of big irrigation systems.

As of December 2016, the NIA said it has developed 1.85 million hectares of agricultural lands, equivalent to 59.32 percent of irrigation development.

The approved P40.8-billion funding includes the P2.6-billion allocation for the implementation of the free irrigation in 2018, according to NIA Spokesman Pilipina Bermudez.

Officials of the NIA will meet the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Sen. Cynthia A. Villar for a Senate Committee Hearing on September 19. Visaya said he is hopeful that the budget approved by the House will also get the nod of the Senate.