NIA chief says peace in countryside critical to pursue devt projects

In a press conference with National Irrigation Administration (NIA) administrator Peter Tiu Laviña on 14 February 2017 in Cagayan de Oro City, he emphasized the importance of solving internal problems with insurgency groups in order for the country to move forward and pursue government projects in the countryside.

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He said we could not forward as a country if we could not fix internal problems first. Likewise, NIA projects will not be successful especially in critical areas with insurgency problem, he added.

His four-point agenda include: Implementation of Free Irrigation Service Fee (ISF); Undertaking of Irrigation projects; Harnessing water resources for hydropower; and Institutional review of mandate, programs and activities of the agency.

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He said that last year, NIA has finished its 10-year master plan to increase our irrigable land from the current 57% to 75%. Although, he admitted that the government could not aim for 100% due to budgetary requirements.

The target under Duterte administration is to complete at least 70%. He said that as long as we can maximize use of existing lands, then we can attain rice self-sufficiency. He explained that the average crop intensity in the country has not yet reached 200% meaning the same land has not been used twice in one year. Others have already envisioned of five croppings in two years, he added.

But of course, there will be a lot of requirements for that such as new variety of seeds, new input, mechanization, new techniques and sufficient water. He explained that this is how we can expand rice self-sufficiency without expanding our lands.

Within 10 years, 78% will be covered for the 60,000 hectares target.

When it comes to harnessing hydropower, Laviña said that NIA alone has 300 sites where they can generate hydropower. NIA now owns and operates one hydro-electric power plant with 6MW and has several partnership joint venture with other energy companies.

He added, there had been advances in technology where even our irrigation canal can generate electricity through a new technology called pico-hydro which can generate kilowatts power.

“We have to balance our use of renewable energy and fossil use,” he added. So hopefully, NIA can undertake this as this can be a source of income. We are creating a full time unit to handle hydroelectric power projects. We are reviewing our memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Department of Energy (DOE).

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On the other hand, NIA region 10 Manager Jimmy L. Apostol said to address concerns in case of heavy rainfall, NIA will have to incorporate drainage system in their irrigation development. Since NIA has not incorporated drainage canals in the irrigation program, it will be one of the projects soon to be implemented.

Irrigation Development Status as of Dec. 31, 2016, Potential Irrigable Area: 148,005 hectares and a total of 87,363 hectares service area developed with 59.03% irrigation development.

Major and ongoing projects include Talakag Irrigation Project (Talakag, Bukidnon), Ditsaan-Ramain Irrigation Project (Ditsaan-Ramain, Lanao del Sur), Malaig River Irrigation System Extension Project (Butig and Sultan Dumalondong) with total funding of P894, 144 and generated area of 3,728 hectares. (JMOR/PIA10)

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