The Manila Times : BBM backs NIA transfer

13 October 2021

By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times

FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. backed the proposal to transfer the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) under the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help farmers improve their crop yields.

He noted that the DA, being the primary agency handling the agriculture sector, has all the pertinent data, programs, equipment and experts.

He said the DA and NIA will be able to fulfill their mandates to 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," Marcos said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Their integrated programs and interventions would develop the agriculture sector which is key to our economic development," he added.

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

Marcos said studies showed that proper irrigation is a major driver of productivity in farms with over 60 percent of rice fields depending on irrigation more than rainwater.

"Kaya talagang dapat nating ayusin ang ating (That is why we really need to improve our) irrigation system," he stressed.

Created in 1963 through Republic Act 360, the NIA is a government-owned and controlled corporation and was put under the Office of the President.

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 and DA in 1987.

In 1992, the NIA was returned to the Office of the President (OP) but was transferred again to the DA. In 2014, NIA was moved back to the OP by Executive Order 165.

In April, Agriculture Secretary William Dar requested the transfer of NIA to DA to support better integration and enhance coordination.

The move will maximize available resources to improve the productivity of Philippine agriculture, Dar said.