House approves ‘Free irrigation’ bill

Farmers, irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives will benefit from this measure once enacted into law

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 5670 which seeks to strengthen assistance to all farmers by providing them with free irrigation services to boost their productivity.

The proposed “Free Irrigation Services Act” declares that the State 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 National Irrigation Administration (NIA) 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).

For purposes of ensuring construction, repair and maintenance of irrigation systems administered by the NIA, the required amount for such shall be included in the annual GAA.

The NIA shall 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.

The amounts necessary to cover the requirement of the NIA for payment of salaries and maintenance and other operating expenses shall be funded under the GAA.

The NIA, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DA), farmers and their irrigators’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives and other stakeholders, shall formulate the implementing rules and regulations within 90 days from the effectivity of the Act.


Photo Courtesy: National Irrigation Administration