In any disaster situation like the current coronavirus pandemic, food security and a strong agricultural system are vital to ensure that Filipinos will have enough food supply and avert the threat of hunger.
This is the reason why the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) continues to support agriculture-related projects in the Philippines such as the rehabilitation of water irrigation systems across the country.
Last month, JICA and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) led the turnover of the newly rehabilitated Porac-Gumain Irrigation System in Pampanga, a subcomponent of the Y6.187-billion National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (NISRIP) in collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
NISRIP is a project that seeks to improve and sustain rice production in the Philippines, ensuring food security in the long term.
The project in Pampanga will help more than 4,000 farmers in the municipalities of Lubao, Floridablanca, Guagua and Sta. Rita in Pampanga particularly challenged with water source problems from the Mount Pinatubo eruption and watershed denudation from the eruption.
JICA Philippines Chief Representative Azukizawa Eigo expressed optimism that the irrigation facility will be a great help to the agriculture sector in Pampanga which is also dealing with the pandemic and climate change issues like water shortage and drought.
“When we improve the production capacities of farmers, then we will also see improvement in food supply and reduced hunger,” he said.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA), Azukizawa said the JICA assistance is their way of building up the agriculture sector which showed 0.7 percent growth in 2020 despite the pandemic.
NIA Region 3 Manager Josephine Salazar noted that Pampanga has the highest irrigation development in Central Luzon from being a lahar province in the past, even as she cited the national government for seeing great potential in the agricultural sector and for supporting the agricultural heroes – the farmers.
NISRIP is one of JICA’s key projects to support Philippine agriculture. Its components include rehabilitating irrigation facilities, institutional strengthening of irrigators’ associations, and agricultural support.
The NISRIP project sites in the Philippines are located in Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Quezon, Palawan, Iloilo, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and Agusan del Sur.