IN A BID TO provide support to poor farmers, the President has signed into law a measure pushing for free irrigation to farmers who own up to eight hectare of land.
The President on February 2 inked Republic Act (RA) 10969 or Free Irrigation Service Act, which exempts farmers who own eight hectares of land or below from paying irrigation service fees. RA 10969 also condones all unpaid irrigation fees and corresponding penalities of farmers who have the same size of land to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), a government-owned and -controlled corporation responsible for irrigation development. According to NIA website, irrigation fees are pegged at the price of two cavans of palay per hectare during the wet season, and three cavans during dry months for diversion scheme.
For storage system, irrigation fees’ rate are at 2.5 cavans per hectare and 3.5 cavans per hectare during wet and dry seasons, respectively. The NIA also collected fees with a rate of five to 10 cavans per hectare (wet season) and six to 12 cavans per hectare (dry season) for pumps procedure.
The newly-signed law, however, does not waive irrigation service fees for farmers with more than 8 hectares of land. Corporate farms, plantations, fishponds, and those drawing water for non-agricultural process are also not covered by free irrigation service. The Free Irrigation Service Act is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1465 and House Bill 5670 approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives on October 11, 2017 and November 20, 2017, respectively. (SunStar Philippines)