Abono: Free farmers from irrigation fees
ROSALES – Re-elected Abono partylist representative Conrado Estrella III hoped that the new administration would look into the possibility of freeing the farmers from paying irrigation fees, one of the big expenses to produce palay.
“Because of high irrigation fees, the production cost of palay is high. The national government should look for ways to subsidize the irrigation fees,” Estrella said.
Oftociano Manalo, president of the federation of irrigators assocation in Region I, said farmers pay an equivalent of five cavans of palay for irrigation service fees during dry season cropping, and three cavans during wet season cropping.
When converted into cash, five cavans (45 kilos at P17 per kilo) cost P3,150, which farmers pay for water during dry season. The same computation means they pay P2,295 during wet season.
Those covered by communal irrigation systems pay according to the loans they acquired for establishing the systems, and for maintenance of the systems.
Ponciano Onia, who agricultural land in Umingan town is covered by a communal irrigation system, pays P1,500 per hectare per cropping season.
“The amount eats into income of the farmers,” Estrella said.
He said the national authorities could study the laws and look into setting aside a mandatory allocation from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes for the maintenance of the irrigation facilities in the country.
Estrella said the national government should also invest more in modern agricultural technologies and advocate these to the farmers, “so that the farming system is not a guess work.”
“We believe we already have good technologies but many farmers refuse to adopt them. Maybe this is because we are able to show them that their output would increase if they use the modern technologies,” he said.
Manalo said he hoped the national government would continue the Department of Agriculture’s program on providing farm machinery to farmers
He also hoped the DA will continue its program to provide certified seeds to farmers but to give these directly to farmers’ groups and not through the local government units.
“Sometime the mayors and the municipal agriculture officers select the beneficiaries who are close to them or are their political supporters, leaving out many farmers who deserve the subsidy,” he said.
Under the certified seeds subsidy, a farmer is allocated one bag (40 kilos) of certified seeds that costs P1,200.
Manalo explained that the DA gave a free hand to the farmers groups to collect whatever amount from their members for the seeds, so that the organizations would have fund which they can loan out for their needs.
But it is the LGU that collects money “and we do not know where the amount goes,” Manalo said.
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