NIA eyes ‘greater’ achievements under new government

AS part of the Philippine government’s presidential transition process, president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. expressed his plans to reprioritize the development of agriculture in the country.

During the Agri 2022 Online Forum, he highlighted the need for a “change of approach” in the agricultural sector. His budget priorities include agriculture and food security, climate resiliency, economic recovery, improved healthcare and education, enhanced infrastructure projects, utilization of renewable energy, eco-tourism development, and sustainable development.

With 15 Regional Offices, two Integrated Irrigation Systems Offices, and 64 irrigation management offices (IMOs) nationwide, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) supports the incoming administration to further develop the country’s agricultural sector.

“NIA expresses its support to the plans and platforms of Marcos administration as the agency looks forward to greater achievements in irrigation sector,” the agency said in a statement.

For agriculture and food security, NIA said it supported the “Build, Build, Build” Program of the Duterte administration. It started the construction of its big-ticket projects costing a total of P108.59 billion to cover more agricultural areas nationwide, such as the P1.029-billion Pasa Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (Isabela), P13.37-billion Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project – Phase II (Tarlac), and the P11.21-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II (Iloilo).

Other projects undertaken by the agency include the P25.731-billion Ilocos Norte-Ilocos Sur-Abra Irrigation Project, P3.5-billion Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project, P4.134-billion Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Dam Project, P31.22-billion Kabulnan 2 Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project, and P5.444-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project (North Cotabato).

In terms of renewable energy development, NIA has embarked on the development of hydroelectric power and solar-powered irrigation projects to maximize the utilization of existing irrigation facilities nationwide.

As of December 31, 2021, NIA already completed the construction of 333 solar-powered irrigation projects amounting to P1,517,533,450.71. These projects which can generate 4,215.33 horsepower also provide reliable irrigation water supply to 6,482.62 hectares of agricultural land nationwide, benefitting 8,467 farmers and their families.

“With the soaring price of gasoline and diesel, these solar-powered pump projects farmers can continue to irrigate their lands free from the burden of shouldering high fuel costs.”

Under the term of President Duterte, NIA said it also started venturing to floating solar power project on its dams and reservoirs as the SN Aboitiz Power Group has constructed a 2,500-square meter floating solar power energy plant in Magat Dam in Isabela which features solar panels fixed to floats on the water surface.

Instead of focusing on land-based solar projects, NIA offers its dams and reservoirs for the water-based project which can achieve the same purpose of increasing power production while saving agricultural lands.