• Government channels P585-M to rehab irrigation system nationwide

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    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released some P584.7 million to the Department of Agriculture-National Irrigation Administration (DA-NIA) for the restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation systems damaged by natural calamities.

    DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Monday said the release was charged against the DA-NIA’s P3.49-billion budget for Irrigation Network Services this year.

    These services are likewise one of the agency’s Major Final Outputs under the 2014 Performance-Informed Budget, he noted.

    “By giving sufficient budget support to the agriculture department, the Aquino administration can give the NIA enough leeway to fulfill their targets for 2014, specifically for shaping up existing irrigation systems across the country,” said Abad.

    “More important, however, is the positive impact of better irrigation systems on crop production nationwide, which will in turn boost our agriculture industry and aid the very farmers that drive it,” he said.

    The Aquino government expressed optimism that it would be able to achieve its goal of rice self-sufficiency this year.

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) has remained firm on its efforts to attain 100 percent rice self-sufficiency this year since the country had 98 percent sufficiency of the staple food in 2013 despite the calamities that hit agriculture-producing provinces.

    Abad noted that the P584.7-million release comprises the entirety of DA-NIA’s 2014 budget for the restoration/rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems, which is one of the sub-projects covered by NIA aimed to increase the country’s rice production.

    Aside from rehabilitation and restoration, other sub-projects listed under the NIA’s Irrigation Network Services budget include the extension/expansion of existing irrigation networks, repair/operation and maintenance of pump irrigation systems, irrigation management transfer support services, and climate change adaptation works.

    “We’ve designed the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) so that irrigation projects under DA-NIA are not just comprehensive in scope, but also responsive to the agriculture sector’s long-term requirements, the demands of our climate change agenda, and the Aquino administration’s ongoing campaign for inclusive growth,” said Abad.

    “Altogether, the investments we’re making towards our national irrigation systems are only one component of President (Benigno) Aquino (III)’s agriculture development agenda,” he said.

    Since the beginning of the Aquino administration, the DBM chief said, “it’s been clear to us that the agriculture industry needs to play a much larger role in the development of the Philippine economy, given the abundance of agricultural land and the potential for growth in this particular sector.”

    Under its rice self-sufficiency goal, the government is targeting to produce 21 million metric tons (MT) of paddy rice in 2014, which is around 14 percent more than the 18.44 million MT produced in 2013.

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Philippines milled rice production in 2014 is estimated at around 11.64 million MT against a consumption of around 12.85 million MT.

    As such, rice imports in 2014 are estimated at around 1.4 million MT.

    DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the National Food Authority (NFA) Council is set to meet this week to discuss the volume of rice that needs to be imported this year.

    He said rice imports should arrive during the lean months of the year which is from June to August. PNA

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