Palawan farmers should go into small businesses to augment their income, a consultant of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said.

Bayani Ofrecio said farmers could put up small businesses to top up the income they are getting from their farms.

“Kung sa tingin niyo ‘di sapat ang binibigay na subsidy, we encouraged you to generate your own income kaya ini-introduce namin itong on-farm enterprise management, ibig sabihin nito, yong mga irrigation associations (IAs) can enter into some sort of small businesses,” Ofrecio said Tuesday.

The NIA, he said is giving subsidy to farmers as a form of incentives for the operations and maintenance of irrigation canals.

Ofrocio said the subsidy is categorized under two specifications: for operations subsidy, the agency will pay a farmer P150 per hectare per cropping, which means two croppings could earn P300 per hectare, and maintenance subsidy for cleaning canals is P150 per cleaning time for a seven-kilometer cemented canal, conducted six times a year.

“Yong mga palay trading, bulk procurement ng fertilizer, in fact ang IA pwede rin sila mangontrata ng mga pagawa ng NIA, ‘yong mga ginagawang repairs for as long as the IAs are qualified, binibigyan namin sila ng kontrata,” he added.

Under the new law, “the farmers are now empowered,” he said.

In Palawan, Ofrecio said the agency has already recorded small farm enterprises starting to operate.

“Halimbawa may tinubo ang IA sa kanilang operations, hindi mo ibabalik as dividend yon, any surplus in operation ibabalik din sa operation,” Ofrecio said.