By Ernie Reyes
Senator Cynthia Villar and NIA Administrator Bong Visaya pose with the Outstanding Irrigator’s Association Awardees.
MANILA — Senator Cynthia A. Villar recently commended the accomplishments of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in realizing an accelerated and sustainable irrigation development.
Speaking during the 59th Anniversary celebration of NIA, Villar acknowledged the collective efforts of the agency’s Administrator Bong Visaya and his team, and the farmers and irrigators’ association spearheading the further growth of our irrigation system and helping our farmers and the communities in general.
“It takes both knowledge in efficient engineering to develop and maintain irrigation systems in support of the agricultural program of the government,” said Villar.
She also cited the dedication and commitment of the men and women of NIA and the support of the various irrigators associations nationwide to provide adequate level of irrigation service on a sustainable basis as a partnership with the farmers and local government units.
She congratulated Visaya and his people’s very good accomplishments “a record in history” that the status of irrigation development in 2021 is 11.68% higher than the irrigation development status 10 years ago or in 2011.
Under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, she cited an increase of 311, 264.66 hectares or 7.95 percent rise in irrigation development from 2016 to 2021.
“It also pursued Solar-Powered Irrigation Projects, where NIA has 333 solar-powered irrigation projects nationwide with an aggregate cost of P1.517 billion,” she also said.
Villar further said the Free Irrigation Service Act (FISA) of 2018, which she principally authored, has been benefitting farmers with landholdings of 8 hectares or less.
“These farmers, are exempted from paying the irrigation service fee (ISF) for the irrigation derived from national and communal irrigation systems constructed and administered by NIA and other government agencies,”Villar said.
“The main benefit to farmers from free irrigation is the savings from paying the irrigation service fee in the case of national irrigation systems (NIS)and the subsidy for operations and maintenance (O&M) in the case of communal irrigation systems (CIS),” she emphasized.
It also provided condonation and writing off of loans, past due accounts and penalties of Farmers and Irrigators Associations of punpaid ISF and the fines of farmers to NIA. (ai/mtvn)