PGMA prioritizes irrigation rehab; allots P3.13-B
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (29 August) -- In a bid to make the country food sufficient in the next two years, the Arroyo Administration has earmarked this year some P3.13 billion for the rehabilitation or restoration of the country's irrigation facilities.
The allotted amount is expected to rehabilitate irrigation facilities covering around 84,500 hectares of land according to Agriculture Secretary Yap.
The repair of said facilities is expected to boost farm production and is consistent with President Arroyo's commitment to rapidly increase palay yields for the country's long-term food sufficiency program.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) reported that of the P3.13 billion allocation, some P2.94 billion has been released as of midyear to rehabilitate irrigation facilities servicing 32,000 hectares, and restore other systems covering 52,200 hectares.
Earlier, the President has also allocated P1.27 billion for the restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation system in the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle(NLAQ) which covers the Ilocos Region, Cordillera, Region II, and part of Nueva Ecija and Aurora provinces.
The repair, rehabilitation and construction of irrigation systems nationwide form part of President Arroyo's FIELDS program for agriculture.
FIELDS stands for Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure research and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and SEEDS.
The program is being implemented by the DA's palay subsector through its five-harvest self sufficiency strategy intended to make the country at least 98 % sufficient in the grain in two years time as it targets 18.55 million MT harvests next year and 19.77 million MT in 2010.
In fulfillment of her SONA commitment on agricultural modernization and food sufficiency, President Arroyo has so far released P13.25 billion for FIELDS, for this year alone.
For the first seven months this year, the Arroyo Administration has already earmarked under FIELDS some P1.3 billion for fertilizer assistance and subsidies; P694.74 million for extension services; P1.07 billion for flatbed dryers; P4 billion for farm-to-market roads (FMRs); and P1.54 billion for seeds.
Under the President's FIELDS Program, the agriculture department has also facilitated the release of P1.5 billion in loans to 11.22 million farmers and fisherfolks nationwide covering the May-July 2008 period. (PIA La Union) [top]