Among the factors determining rice productivity, water availability is key. It was therefore a surprise, and a disappointment, that the President left out the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the organizational realignment of agriculture with the return of the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) from the Office of the President to the Department of Agriculture (DA) where these vital national agencies properly belong.
By now we have invested over P700 billion in the development of irrigation systems. While the nation�s attention is riveted on the rice problem, it is opportune to take a good look on how well we are managing our irrigation systems and how we can derive more benefits from them.
As pointed out in the previous columns, our rice problem has two conflicting dimensions: The need to raise productivity and support the price of palay to increase incomes of poor farmers, and the compelling need to bring down the price of rice to make the staple affordable to all Filipinos.
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