Davao City — Local chief executives (LCEs) in Mindanao are urging the national government to subsidize irrigation fees as direct incentives to small farmers.
The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) in a resolution addressed to the President underscored the need to subsidize the irrigation fees collected by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to help farmers cope with the rising cost of farm inputs.
LMP vice president for Mindanao and Lambayong Mayor Ramon Abalos said they foresee the capability of the government to provide such incentive considering the huge amount generated from expanded value-added tax (E-Vat), including those from the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation (Pagcor).
Abalos, who also represents the LCEs in the Mindanao Rural Development Program’s – Program Advisory Board (MRDP-Pab), said that the league’s resolution is also in line with the national government’s thrust of putting more investments in hard infrastructure.
“Instead of seeds and fertilizer subsidies it would be better for the government to provide hard infrastructure as this will have long-term benefits to our small farmers. Although it would take for awhile to put in place the much needed infrastructure, subsidizing the irrigation fees will directly impact on increasing farmers’ incomes,” Abalos said.
“Subsidizing irrigation fees and other direct incentives to rice farmers will not only improve their profit but would also inspire others to go back to rice farming,” he added.
Abalos said that the farmers can provide the manpower needed in the maintenance and operations of communal irrigation systems to complement the government’s input. He added that the knowledge that these projects will directly help constituents will also encourage LCEs to pour in investments in irrigation facilities.
MRDP program director Roger Chio also said there is a need to increase public investments in irrigation to boost the country’s rice production. “The country’s population is rapidly growing with limited lands to exploit; (thus) the agriculture sector must continue to expand and improved its irrigation systems to address food security requirements.”
Chio urged LCEs in Mindanao to prioritize investments in irrigation to increase rice yield and improve farmers’ income. (DA-MRDP/PIA XI)irrigation, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Mindanao