By: DANNY O. CALLEJA
LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 2 (PNA) – The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Bicol regional office considers it a significant improvement from the previous completing nearly 75 percent of all the Php490.2-million irrigation projects assigned to the region last year.
It is higher than the 62.06-percent accomplishment in 2014 and “we could have accomplished more this year had the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the funds earlier,” NIA Regional Director Vicente Vicmudo said in a statement released by the office’s information officer Eduardo Yu Tuesday.
“Funds for our 2015 projects were released by the DBM only in the last week of July, thus, construction works on the projects began only in August but despite of only five months left to finish the projects by December, we were able to complete 77 of the 158 projects equivalent to 74.24 percent in overall physical accomplishment last year,” Vicmudo said.
An amount of Php490.2 million was earmarked for all the 158 irrigation projects in the region for last year.
Aside from the 77 completed, 75 projects are still ongoing construction and expected to be finished by end of March this year while the rest of last year’s projects were yet to be started.
In a breakdown per Bicol province, 25 of the completed projects are in Albay, 23 in Sorsogon, 17 in Camarines Sur; Camarines Norte, seven; and Masbate, five.
The island-province of Catanduanes has 15 projects whose physical status as of yearend was 56.52 percent completed while Masbate, whose level of irrigation development as of Dec. 31, 2014 is merely 27.72 percent, the lowest among the six provinces, has 10 more projects that are ongoing construction, according to the NIA regional chief.
Among those completed in Masbate is the Magtagbac Communal Irrigation Project (CIP) now benefiting a total of 200 hectares of rice farms expected to boost the production capabilities of over 200 farmers in Milagros town.
Vicmudo describes the project as new structures and facilities composed of a checkgate dam, an elevated flume or canal, three units of barrel siphon, two units of headgates, two units of road crossing and 3.10 kilometers of concrete line canal.
Albay, on the other hand, still has 25 more ongoing projects; 12 more in Camarines Norte; another 12 in Camarines Sur; and Sorsogon, seven more, he said.
All the completed, ongoing and yet-to-be-started projects will irrigate a total of 2,866 hectares and benefit 2,420 farmers.
These finished projects regionwide now irrigate 197 hectares of previously rainfed areas, restored irrigation service to 1,093 hectares of rice farms, and repaired irrigation facilities and structures in 1,576 hectares of ricelands, Vicmudo said.
NIA records show that the region, before the completion of these new projects, had a total of 239,660 hectares of irrigable land while the existing service area as of December 2014 was placed at 136,232 hectares.
The 2015 completed projects as of last July generated an additional service area of 1,085 hectares, bringing to 137,317 Bicol’s area served by government irrigation facilities showing a 57.30-percent development, the same records show.
Agriculture officials say that with this, the region is already expected to sustain its rice self-sufficient (RSS) status first achieved in 2013 that saw a production growth rate of 5.96 percent over 2012 for a 102.19-percent RSS level which means Bicolano farmers produced around 2.2 percent more than the amount local consumers could eat.
That RSS level was based on the regional production of over one million metric tons (MT) as against the regional consumption of around 822,000 MT.
In 2014 up to 2015, almost the same level of RSS was achieved, according to an earlier report of the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based in Pili, Camarines Sur, which placed the total production at about 1.3 million MT for an over 100-percent RSS.
Vicmudo said the implementation of this year’s projects in Bicol are more focused on restoration and improvement of existing irrigation systems as they could be immediately done since they no longer need feasibility studies as required by the construction of new ones.
In terms of 2015 financial accomplishment meanwhile, NIA Bicol, according to him, earned a total income of Php56.7 million-- Php37.9 million in irrigation service fees (ISF); Php7.5 million in amortizations from communal and pump irrigation systems (CIS/PIS); Php2.3 million in farmers’ equity contributions; Php120,000 in equipment rental; and Php11 million in bidding documents.
Last year’s ISF collection was higher by 6.8 percent compared to 2014’s Php35.5 million, while CIS/PIS amortization posted an increase of nine percent from Php6.9 million in 2014.
Overall, the total income of NIA Bicol of Php56.7 million is 2.47-percent lower compared to its income in 2014 of Php58 million.
The decrease is attributed significantly to lower miscellaneous income from bidding documents, which went down from P13.7 million in 2014 as the allocation for irrigation projects in 2014 of Php 704.4 million was much bigger compared to the Php490.2 million budget last year, Vicmudo explained. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD