The government plans to construct more irrigation systems and projects worth Php100 billion over the next two years to support the country's drive for rice self-sufficiency.
In an interview, newly installed National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Administrator Peter Tiu LaviAa said these projects include locally-funded ones costing Php14 billion.
LaviAa said the feasibility studies to be financed by China are also being completed on six irrigation projects totalling Php42 billion.
"We want many projects (These are in) various stages. There are projects with already available funds, there are projects with on-going bidding; while others in feasibility studies (phase)," he said.
LaviAa earlier told reporters the administration intended to rehabilitate and improve irrigation systems to serve especially the rice farmers in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's goal to attain rice self-sufficiency.
The Duterte government aimed for rice self-sufficiency in two years.
The administrator bared that irrigation development has only reached 57 percent or 1.7 million hectares of land.
"Our plan it to launch many irrigation projects to cover the remaining 43 percent," LaviAa said, noting this represents the remaining 1.32 million hectares of the total estimated irrigable lands of 3.02 million hectares.
Apart from construction of more irrigation systems and projects, LaviAa cited other priorities he wanted to focus on during his term.
These also include attainment of food self-sufficiency by making the best use of the irrigation systems and utilizing water resources for hydropower to increase NIA's sources of income and the implementation of free Irrigation service fees.
LaviAa stressed the government is currently studying the overall policy on scrapping the irrigation fees.
"Definitely, we will follow the Presidential directive on free irrigation," he assured. "Definitely, the poor rice farmers should have zero (fee). But to those who also use the irrigation systems and have the capacity to help us maintain the irrigation system, they should have payments or contribution in our maintenance."
Source: Philippines News Agency