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DOF, NEDA support transfer of NIA to DA

Author: DA Communications Group | 5 October 2021

The Department of Finance (DOF) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) fully support the proposal to transfer the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) from the Office of the President (OP) to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“By making NIA an attached agency of the DA, we believe that both agencies will be better able to fulfill their respective mandates and deliver better outcomes for their shared benefit —the Filipino farmers,” said finance secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, in a memorandum for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, on April 20, 2021, supporting the proposal to transfer the NIA to the DA.

For his part, socioeconomic planning secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said: “NEDA agrees with the merits raised by the DA to ensure stronger and better complementation of interventions and activities to develop the agriculture sector.”

“The NIA was created by virtue of Republic Act No 3601 (1963), as amended, to expand irrigated farmlands in order to better program the production of agricultural crops, increase the productivity of our framers, and ensure a stable supply of farm commodities,” added secretary Chua, in a letter to deputy executive secretary for general administration Atty. McJill Bryant Fernandez, on September 13, 2021.

Agriculture secretary William Dar made the proposal in a letter to President Duterte, on April 19, 2021, as “transferring NIA back to DA will support better integration and enhance coordination to maximize available resource to improve the productivity of Philippine agriculture. Irrigation is a vital component in attaining agricultural productivity especially when complemented with proper crop management practices and strategies.”

Secretary Chua, who also serves as NEDA director-general, said transferring the NIA to DA is consistent with the priority strategy under Chapter 8 of the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly on strengthening the coordination of government agencies to ensure the complementation of plans, programs and projects to develop the agriculture sector.

“The transfer of supervision over NIA will also ensure the accelerated development of modern and climate-resilient irrigation facilities which are critical in implementing DA’s reform agenda to achieve a modern and industrialized Philippine agriculture,” he said.

Secretary Dar said putting the NIA under the DA’s jurisdiction will benefit not only farming communities, but also the entire agriculture sector, particularly in making the operations of the agency more efficient in fulfilling its mandate.

“The transfer will lead to simplicity, economy, and efficiency, and better integration and coordination on the fulfillment of their complementary governmental mandates,” he said.

“Water is the lifeblood of agriculture, and agriculture is life. We can cite a number of justifications why it is necessary for the NIA to be part of the ‘OneDA’ family,” added secretary Dar.

He said the country has still about 1.2 million hectares of arable farmland that could be irrigated and productively planted to rice, corn, vegetables, and high-value crops, but at the rate, the government is investing in and constructing national irrigation systems, it would take another 20 years before said goal could be realized.

The NIA was placed under the OP upon its creation in 1963. In 1972, it was attached to the Department of Public Works, Transportation, and Communication. In 1987, it was attached to both the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and DA.

In 1992, it was transferred back to OP, pursuant to EO 22, and then transferred again to DA, as an attached agency through Administrative Order No. 17.

In 2014, along with other three agencies (National Food Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority), the NIA was again transferred to the OP through EO 165, under the supervision of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.

The NIA Board of Directors is currently chaired by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles. He also heads the inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger.  ### (Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms)

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