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Gatchalian urges NIA to stop collecting irrigation fees from farmers
philippines: Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to stop collecting irrigation service fees (ISFs) from farmers and farming cooperatives.
In a statement, Gatchalian pointed out that irrigation services should be provided free by the government.
“Irrigation is a key factor in increasing agricultural productivity, rice sufficiency and food security. It should be the obligation of the State to provide free irrigation services,” Gatchalian said.
He said ISFs has further reduced the already meager monthly income of small farmers.
According to the senator, the average ISF rate charged against farmers during the dry season is three cavans per hectare per year, multiplied by the prevailing National Food Authority (NFA) price per kilo of rice, and 2.5 cavans per hectare per year during the wet season.
The NIA collects the ISFs for yields of 40 cavans and above. The fund is used to cover the cost of operation and maintenance and to recover the cost of construction of irrigation systems nationwide.
Gatchalian called on the government to “condone” P13 billion in ISFs owed by farmers and farming cooperatives to the NIA.
"Social justice demands that we lend a helping hand to these honest, hardworking farmers who are burdened by unfair debts. These people are the backbone of our agricultural sector, and government needs to look out for their welfare," he said.
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