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Typhoon Victims

NIA asked to exempt farmers from irrigation fees
08:47 PM October 06, 2011

PALAYAN CITY—Officials of Nueva Ecija have asked the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to exempt farmers, whose rice fields were hit by floods spawned by successive typhoons last week, from paying irrigation service fees this cropping season.

Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos said the provincial board passed a resolution asking the NIA not to collect irrigation fees from the farmers, especially after the devastation wrought by Typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel” last week.

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“Palay and other crops in Nueva Ecija have suffered damage, which will surely financially burden our farmers and their families,” said the resolution addressed to NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel. Gov. Aurelio Umali and Peñaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, president of the League of Municipalities in Nueva Ecija, welcomed the board’s move, saying it would ease the burden of local farmers.

The NIA-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-Upriis), which supplies irrigation water to more than 100,000 hectares of rice lands in the province and parts of Tarlac, Bulacan and Pampanga, charges farmers two and a half cavans (125 kg) of palay a hectare during rainy days, and three and a half cavans (175 kg) a hectare during “dayatan” or dry cropping season.

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Serafin Santos, provincial agriculturist, said traders were buying palay from farmers at P5 a kilogram at the height of the typhoons’ onslaught last week.

“Those farmers who decided to harvest their [flood-hit] crops had to sell them at P5 a kilogram,” he said.

The buying price, however, improved to between P11 and P12 a kg when the weather condition in areas serviced by the NIA-Upriis improved on Tuesday, he said.

Reynaldo Puno, operations manager of NIA-Upriis, said only about 10 percent of crops in areas serviced by the system had been harvested before the typhoons struck.

He said his office has a policy of exempting farmers who harvested only 40 cavans and below a hectare from paying irrigation service fees.

“All they have to do is report [this] to the technician who will validate it,” he said.

Umali sought the assistance of the national government in the rehabilitation of farmlands in the province, possibly through conditional cash transfers.

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He said farmers in Nueva Ecija, a province considered as one of the biggest rice producers in the country, should be given a chance to recover from the disaster.

“Our loss will surely affect the national [food supply] condition,” he said. Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: Agriculture, farmer, Flood, Irrigation, Naitonal Irrigation Administration, Nueva Ecija, Typhoon
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