THE House of Representatives has approved the P40.8-billion budget for 2018 of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
The amount is higher by six percent than the P38.3 billion allotted for the irrigation sector this year.
Bulk of the approved budget or P26.8 billion will go to restoration, repair and rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems and construction and development of new irrigation systems.
The agency is also eyeing to establish pump and special irrigation systems.
NIA chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya previously said the increased budget will be used to accelerate and complete ongoing projects and quickly develop and increase new irrigation areas.
“We want to increase the budget to fund the construction of our dams. We still have about 40.68 percent to be developed and we would like to fast- track the development to help achieve rice self-sufficiency,” he added.
The NIA administrator said Congress’ approval is a welcome move for the agency to be able to implement new projects of larger scale, continuously conduct project feasibility studies and detailed engineering, provide adequate equipment support for operation and maintenance and protect watersheds of big irrigation systems.
The agency is set to meet the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food headed by Sen. Cynthia Villar for a committee hearing on September 19.
As of December 2016, it has developed 1.85 million hectares of agricultural lands equivalent to 59.32 percent of irrigation development.