The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) was created by law in 1963 primarily to address the needs of the “Irrigation Age”, and specifically to, “investigate and study all available and possible water resources in the Philippines, primarily for irrigation purposes; to plan, design, construct and/or improve all types of irrigation projects and appurtenant structures” (Section 2, R.A. 3601, as amended by P.D. 552 and P.D. 1702). For this purpose, the NIA has been given the necessary flexibility of a corporate vehicle and the administrative autonomy to pursue its statutory objectives.
Based on its 2010 First Quarter Progress Report to the President, the NIA reported that in regard the status of irrigation development in the country, “as of December 31, 2009, the total service area developed was 1,539,937 ha or 49% of the estimated potential irrigable area of 3,126,340 ha. x x x. The remaining potential area to be developed is still 1,586,960 ha. x x x.”
According to the NIA itself, its current success rate is forty-nine (49%), or less than half of the country’s potential. While according to experts, the country’s self-sufficiency in agriculture will be achieved if we can irrigate ninety-five percent (95%) of irrigable areas.
This congressional initiative comes in the face of a dwindling outlook in the country’s agricultural output, the increase of which is the ultimate objective of government’s irrigation programs.
Senate Bill No. 2349 proposes to accelerate irrigation development in the country in order to address the pressing agricultural needs of our countrymen. It mandates the National Irrigation Authority to come up with programs and plans of action to achieve this goal, within three (3) years from the effectivity of the Act.