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The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Palawan bagged the 2020 ‘Best Irrigation Management Office’ nationwide as it prioritized project implementation and operation and maintenance of irrigation projects in the province despite the restrictions brought by the pandemic.

Palawan Irrigation Management Office (IMO) Division Manager Engr. Conrado Cardenas, Jr., said the resiliency and unity of the local office helped attain the award that was once given to NIA Palawan in 2018.

“We aren’t into the fact of getting an achievement seeing the condition of COVID-19 is already alarming, rather the agency is focused more on fulfilling NIA’s quality objectives without disregarding our core values despite the protocols being implemented since March 2020. But we couldn’t be any prouder and glad that we achieved this far,” he said.

As of December 2020, Palawan IMO is operating and maintained two (2) National Irrigation Systems (NIS) and eighty-seven (87) Communal Irrigation Systems (CIS). The agency started constructing dams and canals in 1973 from 18 out of 23 municipalities in Palawan which have irrigation potential.

In 2020, Palawan IMO irrigated 38,711.32 hectares of farmlands both from dry and wet seasons producing 3,563,913 cavans of rice.

“The unity and sheer hard work of each department are some of the contributing factors to attain the 2020 best irrigation management office award. We remain resilient and equipped to attain the mission of NIA because we believe that the completion of the project in 2020 will provide additional rice needed by the communities or meet rice self-sufficiency to support economic condition in Palawan,” he added.

IMO Manager Cardenas mentioned that the local division came up with arrangements such as skeletal strategies and decision makings to prioritize the irrigation projects. Palawan IMO also assured it will maintain the quality of irrigation services and conduct continuous institutional training to its beneficiaries as part of the agency’s participatory approach program while following health and safety measures.

“Achieving an award in times of pandemic is overwhelming. It is an honor and privilege to divulge that our hard work has borne fruit even in this crisis. For us, it is also important to remain dedicated to our commitment, integrity, and professionalism to be able to meet the best irrigation management office of the year,” Cardenas said.

The 2021 calendar of the agency’s projects, aims to set up programs for the repair and rehabilitation of the Malatgao and Batang-Batang River Irrigation Systems in Narra. The agency also plans to provide laboratory material testing useful for future irrigation projects; attain International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Certification that outlines high-quality services, credibility, and efficiency of the agency; concentrate on Pre-Feasibility Study and Detailed Engineering (Pre-FSDE) such as gathering hydrological data, area validation, and conduct of socio-economic survey to determine the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of the project. It will also conduct FSDE for the proposed NIS in the towns of Rizal, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, and Quezon.

NIA Palawan will continuously adopt modern technologies such as solar irrigation pumps in isolated and high-priority areas of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC). NIA previously stated that the continuous link of irrigation projects in ELCAC priority areas will help to boost agricultural livelihood and secure food security through developing potential service areas. As part of its aim to accomplish 2021 irrigation projects ahead of time, it will fast-track the Ibato-Iraan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Aborlan which is considered the biggest project of NIA Palawan funded with a P780 million total amount.

Aside from irrigation projects. PIMO will focus on the continuous capability programs for the development, strengthening, and sustenance of irrigator’s association to have strong linkages with other lined agencies to avail programs that promotes food sufficiency and poverty alleviation such as Enhance Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty and maintain PIMO facilities anchored with ISO.

Cardenas further said, by virtue of Executive Order No. 138 dated June 1, 2021, the implementation of Supreme Court Ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia petition, Palawan IMO is preparing for devolution of CIS to Local Government Units in the province

“We are confident that Palaweños will overcome an outbreak because Palawan has enough supply of rice coming from the hard work of the farmers that serve as our food front liners. We can be independent in this crisis even without rice importation from other provinces in the Philippines,” he said.

“We will continue to fulfill our duties as a public servant and remain resilient to help more families never experience hunger. We commit to providing efficient, effective, and sustainable irrigation services aimed towards the highest satisfaction of the Filipino Farmers in the province,” he added.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.