MANILA (Mabuhay) – The goal of the Aquino administration for the country to be rice sufficient can be achieved faster by amending the aged charter of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) specifically the provision on Irrigation Service Fees (ISFs).
COOP-NATCCO party list Representatives Anthony Bravo and Cresente Paez said that abolishing Irrigation Service Fees (ISFs) being collected by NIA on Filipino farmers will be of great help.
Bravo and Paez who penned House Bill 3849 seeking to amend the Charter of NIA said abolishing the ISF will give farmers additional income.
“Irrigation is a key factor in increasing agricultural productivity of our farmers. It should be given for free to ensure adequate food supply especially rice. If we are rice self-sufficient, there would be no more room for rice smuggling,” Bravo said in their explanatory note.
According to Bravo, NIA collects around P3-B irrigation fees annually from farmers.
“Free irrigation services will certainly lower the cost of palay production of our farmers which is now at P18 per kilo. We need to develop the competitiveness of our local farmers and one way is for the government to subsidize some of the production costs,” Paez explained.
The party-list lawmakers earlier filed HB 3226 amending the Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to require a payment of 80-100% of the actual value of the projected harvest of farmers. The bill aims to protect subsistence farmers from the rigors of calamities. (MNS)