Manila Standard : Return of NIA under Agriculture dep’t to benefit farmers — Marcos

12 October 2021

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday sought the transfer of National Irrigation Administration under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, saying the move will help Filipino farmers improve their agricultural productivity.

Marcos, who filed his certificate of candidacy for president in next year’s elections under the banner of the revitalized Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, stressed the DA, being the primary agency handling the agriculture sector, has all the pertinent data, programs, equipment, and experts.

Marcos said both agencies would be able to fulfill their mandates and deliver better services to Filipino farmers if their program strategies and targets are aligned.

“The DA and NIA have a common objective of ensuring food security in our country and transferring the NIA to the DA could enhance food production nationwide. Their integrated programs and interventions would develop the agriculture sector which is key to our economic development,” Marcos said.

NIA is mandated to provide efficient, effective, and sustainable irrigation services aimed at helping Filipino farmers increase their yields and thus contribute to the country’s inclusive economic growth.

Studies show that proper irrigation is a major driver of productivity in farms with more than 60 percent of rice fields depending on irrigation more than rainwater.

“Since there was irrigation in our country, our farmers have not only been able to harvest more than once a year, but they can plant even if it is not the rainy season. So we really have to develop our irrigation system in the country,” Marcos said.

The NIA is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) that was under the Office of the President (OP) when it was created in 1963.

It was transferred to the Department of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication in 1972, and was attached to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and DA in 1987. In 1992, the NIA returned to the OP but was transferred again to the DA. In 2014, NIA was later on moved to the OP by Executive Order No. 165.

In April, Agriculture Secretary William Dar requested the transfer which he said would support better integration and enhance coordination to maximize available resources to improve the productivity of Philippine agriculture.