Return of NIA, 3 other agencies to DA being studied -LaviAa

Newly installed National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Peter Tiu LaviAa on Wednesday said his agency may not be returned to the control of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for now.

LaviAa told reporters during his official turnover that moves to revert back NIA and three other agriculture-related agencies to the DA were still being studied.

The three other agencies include the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

He said each government official has a different idea while others want to maintain a "status quo."

"Our relation with the DA is okay. We need to work together to achieve our objective on rice sufficiency," he added.

Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol has already submitted the draft of the Executive Order (EO) facilitating the return of four agencies under the control of the DA to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) continues to have oversight responsibilities for these agencies which were formerly under the purview of the DA.

Meanwhile, LaviAa outlined the four priorities that he wanted to focus on during his term.

These include the implementation of free irrigation service fees, construction of more irrigation systems and projects, attainment of food self-sufficiency by making the best use of the irrigation systems and utilizing water resources for hydropower to increase NIA's sources of income.

"In the next few months, we will improve our plans and programs to find the right strategy that can get the most out of both our human and material resources for the benefit of our farmers," he said.

LaviAa visited some NIA irrigation systems and regional offices, including Pantabangan Dam part of NIA's Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) in Nueva Ecija, Bustos Dam in NIA Region 3, San Rafael Bulacan and Siluay River Irrigation System in NIA Region XII, General Santos City.

He said the early field visits gave him "glimpse on the things needs to be done" in irrigation sector.

"I would like to better serve our farmers, lift them out of poverty and raise their living standards," he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency