The free irrigation fee from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) won’t apply to rice lands over eight hectares in area, according to John Celeste, NIA Region 1 director.
Celeste told newsmen on Thursday that farmers or corporations owning rice lands that are more than eight hectares are not exempted from paying irrigation fees.
He said the first version of the bill in the House of Representatives seeks to provide free irrigation to all farmers irrespective of the size of the areas they are tilling but when this was put through further studies, it was found out that the move could render the NIA bankrupt.
Farmers used to pay NIA at least PHP2,400 for every hectare of irrigated rice land, which is equivalent to five cavans of palay.
Celeste assured that the free irrigation fees could be availed of by most of the 200,000 farmers of Pangasinan owning an average of one hectare of rice land.
Only a small percentage of the farmers, he added, own rice lands that are more than eight hectares.
NIA is hoping that the free irrigation fees could minimize their production expenses especially during the dry season.
NIA operates several irrigation systems in Pangasinan, the biggest of which is the Agno River Irrigation System. (ADP/PNA)