CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–Citing challenges in agriculture, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA)-10, along with its partner agencies, bared programs, activities, projects, and services to aid the irrigators’ associations, farmers, and groups in northern Mindanao, especially with the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the priority agenda karon sa atoang bag-ong administrasyon ay ang atoang agrikultura. So dako kaayo na importansya ang atoang ahensya–ang National Irrigation Administration, tungod sa iyang [President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.] project order, kinahanglan mapadayon nato, mapalambo ang atoang mga ginahimo nga rice production diri sa tibuok Pilipinas,” NIA Acting Senior Deputy Administrator Engr. Czar Sulaik said.
(One of the priority agenda of the new administration is agriculture. Thus, our agency–the National Irrigation Administration, is very significant in implementing President Marcos’ project order to continue and develop what we are doing in the rice production in the entire Philippines)
Also during the Regional Irrigators Association Congress, August 3, here, Acting Division Manager Engr. Remegio Abang said among the challenges in the irrigation development in the region include the denudation of watershed area supporting irrigation systems, massive quarrying within the prohibitive distance from dams and other structures.
He also added that water deliveries affecting construction/improvement activities, peace and order conditions, and right-of-way problems, lack of farmer-beneficiaries’ capital in land development and crop production, land conversion, and hampered mobility of service providers due to COVID-19 are among the problems that needed immediate response.
Noting these challenges, NIA-10 targets to implement irrigation development projects including the Bubunawan River Irrigation System (RIS), Balingasag RIS, and the Muleta Reservoir and Hydropower Irrigation Project.
For the national irrigation projects, NIA-10 conducts the feasibility studies on Maridagao, Kapatagan Valley, Claveria Small Reservoir, Sultan Naga Dimaporo Small Reservoir, Delapa Small Reservoir, and Maramag (Kulaman) Small Reservoir.
For this year, NIA-10 also works on locally funded projects where the government has allocated over P1.086 billion for Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Iligan City, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, and Lanao del Sur.
Stepping up efforts for agriculture
Further fostering means to help farmers, the National Food Authority (NFA)-10 implements the Palay Procurement Program where NFA shall only buy from legitimate farmers, farmer organizations (FOs), farmer cooperatives (FCs), and farmer associations (FAs).
For January-December 2022, NFA-10 Assistant Regional Manager Joel Lim said the region targets to procure 250,000 bags of rice (50kg/bag) where 134,800 will be procured from Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte (70,000), Misamis Occidental (35,000), and Misamis Oriental (12,200).
For their part, the Department of Agriculture (DA)-10 aided 3,281 farmers and 833 groups, as of May 2022, where the department helped in the increased productivity of production areas, which largely contributed to the food sufficiency of the region as well as increase income of farmers.
The department has also recorded 3.8% growth in agricultural sector in the region amid COVID-19 pandemic. “Northern Mindanao is the 2nd highest contributor to the country’s growth in agriculture, forestry, and fishing contributing 0.38 percentage point,” DA-10 Regional Technical Director Carlota Madriaga said.
On training farmers, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-10 offers a new course for rice production and technologies, which is the production of high-quality inbred rice and seed certification, and farm mechanization.
The region has 5,338 beneficiaries of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Rice Extension Services Program(RCEF-RESP) in 2021 with a total budget of over P71.7 million, and 4,775 beneficiaries in 2022 with over P66.3 million budget.
Other existing TESDA training regulations related to rice production and technologies include rice machinery operations, drying and milling services and maintenance, and small engine repair and maintenance.
Also for this year, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) aided 20,727 farmer beneficiaries during the dry season and in the wet season, 19,724 farmers benefitted from the said agency through the institute’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Seed and Extension Programs.
For seed delivery and distribution, 60,580 bags were delivered in the region since March 16, 2022 and 56,505 were distributed.
Sulaik said such measures are taken because the government recognizes the hardships and challenges that the farmers have undergone. “Nandito ang ahensya ng NIA para sa inyo at handang maglingkod para sa inyong pangangailangan.”
(The agency is here for you and is always ready to serve you in all your needs). (RTP/PIA-10)