Government Strengthens Communal Irrigation System

ZAMBOANGA CITY - In an effort to help farmers increase their production, the government is set to intensify its communal irrigation system to assure that water will reach even the forested and remote mountainous areas, particularly in Mindanao.

In a statement sent here, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Antonio Nangel said that ''with the steady water supply, we can harvest rice, vegetables, and other commodities at least three or four times a year, unlike the usual once or twice a year.''

Nangel pointed out that this is part of the marching order of President Aquino to the Department of Agriculture (DA), a line agency of the national government that has jurisdiction over the NIA.

For his part, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the main key in the success of attaining food sufficiency is the continuous flow of water for all the rice fields and farm lots from all the irrigation systems even in the far-flung areas in the country.

According to Alcala, the marching order of the President is ''to put an end to hunger by 2016.''

Nangel said this is in time for the 3rd State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) of the President before Congress today.

Alcala said that with the full support of the President and other government agencies, high quality and cheaper basic commodities will be on target before President Aquino will step down by 2016.

''Cheaper foods especially for the poor will help resolve hunger and poverty in our country. That is our target and we know we can achieve it,'' Alcala said in another statement.

Alcala added that they want to match the price of foods even for the lowest income earners in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

By next year or 2013, the DA under the leadership of Alcala, assured that the country will be rice sufficient as we do not need to import rice from other neighboring countries.

Alcala added that their target is to have steady supply of vegetables, cheaper price on fish, pork and beef.

This developed after Alcala also disclosed that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has started importing high-quality cows from Australia and New Zealand for ''cross-breeding'' with our local cows.

''High-quality of beef but cheaper in price is the result of this cross-breeding,'' Alcala noted.

For his part, Nangel also said that the will not have to wait for the rainy season to get enough water supply for their farm lots, because the NIA will supply them with enough water even during dry season.

The NIA is also establishing more irrigation systems particularly in Mindanao, which Nangel said was left behind during the past administrations.

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