THE National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is targeting to complete the development of 50,000 hectares of farms this month to attain rice self sufficiency in the country by mid-year.
NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said that as of end of April, at least 26,000 hectares of new areas have been supplied with irrigation or 17.33 percent of the 150,000 hectares of new irrigation areas planned this year.
“We are working double time to develop additional 24,000 hectares by end of June. The target is to bring water to 50,000 hectares of new areas to attain rice self sufficiency this year. This is attainable within June,” Nangel told reporters in the sidelines of Irrigators’ Association Day here.
Of the 150,000 hectares new areas, 40,000 hectares is up for development in the first half 110,000 hectares in the second semester of the year.
Nangel said the country has 10.3 million hectares of agricultural lands.
Out of this, 3.1 million hectares are irrigable, with three percent devoted to rice and corn. Irrigated land areas have increased from 1.48 million hectares in 2010 to 1.73 million hectares in 2012.
“The new service areas will bring the NIA’s total coverage area to more than 1.8 million hectares by the end of this year, more than the requirement for the rice self sufficiency plan,” he said.
The agriculture development drafted the plan in 2010 for implementation in 2011 to 2016.
Budget for irrigation development has been raised from P19 billion in 2012 to P26 billion this year. About 1.45 million hectares have been identified by NIA as potential for irrigation development.
About 60 percent of these areas are in Visayas and Mindanao regions, according to Nangel.
From 15.77 million metric tons (MT) in 2010, total production is targeted at 22.73 million MT by 2016 at an average growth of 6 percent annually.
Harvest area is expected to expand by two percent every year while yield will rise by four percent yearly.
For 2013, the target is to produce 20.04 million MT from 18 million MT in 2012. Of the target output, 16.30 million MT will be from irrigated areas and 3.75 million MT from rain fed farms.
In its long term plan, NIA aims to expand irrigated rice harvest area under large scale irrigation projects by more than 728,000 hectares by 2016 and an additional 96,000 hectares for small scale system.
The NIA chief said that while rehabilitation does not add to harvest area, it is crucial “to avoid the deterioration of existing systems that can eventually reduce harvest area.” (Leyte Samar Daily Express)