Monday, June 24, 2013

P-Noy to lead NIA’s ‘Golden Anniversary,’ 20 ex-administrators to receive awards

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–President Aquino will lead today the 50th (Golden) Anniversary of the  National Irrigation Administration to be highlighted by the conferment of awards to 20 past administrators of  the government’s frontline agency in charge of the administration’s flagship Rice Self Sufficiency Program (RSSP).

          Mr. Aquino will be accompanied at the NIA Complex along Edsa, Diliman, Quezon City by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel which carries the theme : “NIA at 50: Serving the farmers with excellence and commitment to continue its legacy in the years to come…”

          To be handed awards are past administrators Fiorello Estuar, Cesar Tech, Federico Alday, Jose del Rosario Jr., Apolonio Bautista, Rodolfo Undan, Orlando Soriano, Cesar Gonzales, Orlando Hondrade, Jesus Emmanuel Paras, Proceso Domingo, Baltazar Usis, Arturo Lomibao, Marcelino Tugaoen Jr., Carlos Salazar, Alexander Reuyan and Antonio Galvez. Posthumous awards will also be given to the families of deceased past administrators Tomas De Guzman, Alfredo Juinio and Manuel Arevalo.

          Nangel said the agency’s 50th anniversary comes at a most opportune time when the central office and all its 17 regional officers achieved financial viability, the first time it has happened in a half-century. In 1983, it only had three viable regional offices.

Nangel said NIA has come a long way from an agency saddled with various problems - such as extremely low collection of irrigation service fees (ISFs) and slow release of funds for construction of projects over the past few decades into one which has demonstrated its capability to meet the expanding needs of national development.

          At the end of 2012, NIA has generated P3.7 billion in total revenues compared to expenditures of P2.4 billion, giving it a robust net income of P1,306,597,000 for the entire year.

          “On its 50th year, the NIA central office and all our various regional offices are now viable. This is phenomenal. Indeed, this is now the dawning of the Golden Age for NIA,” said Nangel.

Nangel, a Novo Ecijano, was also instrumental in turning the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Systems (UPRIIS) -  the country’s largest national irrigation system (NIS) covering over 100,000 hectares in Central Luzon – into a viable NIS as its operations manager in year 2000, more than two decades after it started operating in 1976.  

          Nangel said NIA is   focused, not only on its mandate of irrigation development, considered the key to increased crop output along with  improved quality of rice seeds, post-harvest facilities, marketing and credit support and farm mechanization, but also on construction of mini-hydro power plants along irrigation canals, eco-tourism in reservoir, and potable water supply.

          He noted that just last year, the government approved three irrigation projects worth P19.7 million namely Phase 2 of the Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation Project in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, Phase 2 of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Irrigation Project in Iloilo and the Umayam River Irrigation Project in Agusan del Sur.

          These are apart from the NIA’s “crown jewels” such as the World Bank-funded Pantabangan Dam, Magat Dam and Angat Dam.

          Lorna Grace Rosario, NIA deputy administrator for administrative and financial management, said the central office posted a net income of P451 million, 34 percent of the total net income.      

Among regional offices, Region 9 posted the highest increment in net income with 95% while in terms of ISF, Region 7 posted the highest.

          In terms of monetary value, the Magat River Integrated Irrigation Systems (Mariis) and Upriis, operators of the Magat and the Pantabangan Dams, respectively posted the highest incomes followed by Regions 12, 10 and 7.

          Mariis posted a net income of P252.5 million while Upriis P238 million. Upriis is under the stewardship of Engineer Josephine Salazar, who made history as the first-ever lady operations manager of the said system.

Others who posted net incomes were Region  12, Region 10, Region 7, Region 9, Region 13, Region 8, Region 11, Region 6, Region 5, Region 3, Region 4-A, Region 1, Cordillera Administrative Region, Region 2 and Region 4-B.

          Robert Suguitan, NIA deputy administrator for engineering and operations, said the attainment of corporate viability is not only a tribute to the priorities given irrigation by President Aquino and Alcala  but also the help of various stakeholders from the regional, operations and project managers to irrigators’ associations and farmers.

          “It’s a concerted effort. You can’t just attribute it to one factor. But we have to give due credit to President Aquino for spearheading the effort. He made it all happen,” Suguitan said.   

          NIA is expanding its service areas with 150,000 hectares of new irrigation areas by the end of this year. To achieve this, it prioritized short-gestation projects, fast-tracked irrigated area roll-out and promoted crop yield-enhancing farming system. It also adopted water saving irrigation methods, including controlled irrigation practices.

          Based on NIA records, the country has 10.3 million hectares of agricultural lands of which 3.1 million hectares are irrigable, with 3% devoted to rice and corn. Irrigated land areas have increased to 1.73 million hectares in 2012 from 1.48 million hectares in December 2010.

          NIA was created by virtue of Republic Act 3601 which was signed into law on June 22,1963 by then-President Diosdado Macapagal.

Its mission was the development and management of water resources for irrigation and provision of necessary services on a sustainable basis consistent with the agricultural development program.

          Aside from sustaining its operations as a viable corporation and service-oriented agency, NIA’s objectives are to develop and maintain irrigation systems in support of the agricultural development program of the government; to provide adequate and sustainable irrigation service in partnership with the farmers and local government units; to provide technical assistance to institutions in the development of water resources for irrigation; and to support economic and social growth in the rural areas through irrigation development and management. (Manny Galvez) 


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