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The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in collaboration with (JICA) has formally inaugurated the P189-million Malatgao River Irrigation System (RIS) rehabilitation project Monday, November 25, situated in the southern town of Narra, the rice-granary of Palawan.
The project is financially aided by JICA through a loan requested by NIA amounting to P189 million.
Narra, blessed with its vast rice lands and potential irrigation sites, has become a major supplier of rice not just in the province but even in some parts of the National Capital Region (NCR).
The irrigation system is expected to start operating next month and will benefit hundreds of Narranian farmers, NIA Palawan Division Manager Engr. Conrado V. Cardenas Jr. said in a recent interview.
“Nasa 3,000 farmers ang bilang namin sa Narra. Hindi man lahat, pero marami talagang magbi-benefit,” Cardenas said.
Some highlights of the event included a press conference with NIA officials from the national and regional office as well as Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Nograles said that irrigation projects such as the Malatgao RIS are in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s mission to create a sufficient supply of rice in the country.
“Ang pinag-uusapan is ‘yung rice self- sufficiency. Importante na pag-usapan ang rice self-sufficiency para magkaroon tayo ng tinatawag na food security sa bansa. Itong mga ginagawang irrigation projects ng NIA ay napaka-importante para marating natin ‘yun,” Nograles said.
Nograles also said that he hopes to see that Narra may help in fulfilling the national government’s advocacy in attaining rice self-sufficiency and may contribute in its goal of having food security all throughout the country.
Based on data handed out by NIA, Narra has a total of 15,000 hectares of potential irrigable area, and 7,535 hectares of these have been totally developed leaving 7,465 hectares of land which they say, is already included for future project plans of the irrigation administration.
Meanwhile, Engr. Conrado Cardenas Jr. NIA Division Manager in Palawan said that irrigation projects in the province will continue to boost until 2020, disclosing that there is already a fiscal budget inclined to suffice upcoming projects in different municipalities all around Palawan.
“For Palawan in 2020 meron na tayong budget na P283-million. Natapos na tayo dito sa Malatgao RIS pero next year meron tayong proposed sa Balabac island, two irrigation systems ‘yun. Then meron din tayong naka-line up sa Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, hanggang Coron and Busuanga covered natin,” Conrades said.