Farmers back irrigation agency transferred to DA

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) has expressed its support for the proposed transfer of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to the Department of Agriculture (DA) from the Office of the President (OP).

MANILA — NIA needs to be under DA jurisdiction since all of its activities concern food production said FFF National Manager Raul Montemayor.

“The agency’s investment priorities and program strategies must be closely aligned and synchronized with the DA’s plans and targets,” he added.

The DA also issued recently a statement announcing that the Department of Finance (DoF) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) have expressed their support for NIA’s transfer.

“The design and allocation of irrigation facilities must jibe with the DA’s intention to promote diversified instead of mono-crop farming, while also addressing risks from droughts, typhoons and other calamities that are expected to intensify because of climate change,” Montemayor pointed out.

DA Secretary William D. Dar submitted a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte in April requesting the transfer of NIA to the Agriculture department.

Dar explained that it “will support better integration and enhance coordination to maximize available resource to improve the productivity of Philippine agriculture.”

At the same time, the FFF also cautioned the Government against “ill-conceived and ill-timed” transfers of DA agencies to other departments, adding that there is a need to fully consult stakeholders before the transfers are finalized.

This developed as the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) was recently transferred to the DoF by Executive Order (EO) 148. The PCIC had been an arm of the DA since 2002.

The NIA was an agency under the Office of the President upon its creation in 1963 but was transferred to the Department of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication in 1972.

In 1987, the NIA was attached to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and DA.

In 1992, the NIA returned to OP and was transferred again to the DA.

In 2014, it was again moved to the OP by EO No. 165.  (JD/Headline PH)

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