Congress approves free irrigation
The House of Representatives has already approved on third and final reading House Bill 5670, which would make irrigation free throughout the entire country.
The proposed “Free Irrigation Services Act” declares that the government shall pursue a genuine agricultural development strategy by providing support services to all farmers, including their irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives, with the end in view of raising their productivity and improving their access to markets.
More particularly, the government shall promote and institutionalize irrigation systems that are free, effective, suitable, applicable and efficient as a key strategy to achieve genuine agricultural development.
The qualified beneficiaries of the free irrigation program shall include farmers, irrigators’ associations, and farmers’ cooperatives.
Owners or operators of corporate farms, plantations, fishponds, and other non-agricultural crop users drawing water or using the drainage facilities of the government’s irrigation systems are not qualified beneficiaries of the program.
“The government, together with the farmers’ and irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives, shall endeavor to build and operationalize an effective grassroots-based management of irrigation systems, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA),” a statement from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said.
“For purposes of ensuring construction, repair and maintenance of irrigation systems administered by the NIA (National Irrigation Administration) the required amount for such shall be included in the annual GAA,” it added.
NIA shall also provide technical and financial assistance to local government units (LGUs) and all farmers, including their irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives with respect to irrigation systems located, utilized, and managed in their respective jurisdiction, including all functional equipment and facilities appurtenant thereto.