ROXAS CITY, Capiz, March 21 (PIA) – Capiz farmers are grateful to the government’s answer to their long plea.

For Domingo Alayon of Poblacion, Sigma town whose livelihood is solely farming, the free irrigation service for the rice lands of the farmers is a very big help to them.

“Every cropping season, we spend so much in farm inputs to include the irrigation of our farm land to have a good harvest,” Alayon said.

He added that farmers are losing in their palay production because of the calamities that always hit their area, particularly flooding.

Alayon is a member of the Pangpang Sur, Sinondojan, Maralag, Poblacion and Batobato (PASIMPOBA) Irrigator’s Association.

A farmer pays to the Irrigator’s Association or National Irrigation System for P1,700 per hectare during wet cropping season and P2,550 per hectare during the dry season.

Alayon, who is now 65 years old, was among those who have been asking the government to free the farmers of the irrigation service fees.

Following the “Tapatan” farmers/fisherfolks forum of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol in Sigma town, March 16, a Memorandum Circular No. 13, series of 2017 was issued for a free irrigation service starting the first cropping season of 2017.

In said Circular, the National Irrigation Administration and its partner Irrigators Association or Federation of Irrigator’s Associations will cease to collect Irrigation Service Fee from farmers served by the National Irrigation Systems.

Capiz NIA Information Officer Engr. Julieta Gallardo said that their agency will also stop collecting amortization and equity payments from farmers and/or farmers’ organizations in the construction, rehabilitation, restoration and expansion of service areas of Communal Irrigation Systems Pump Irrigation Systems including Shallow Tube Well, Small Irrigation Systems and Small Reservoir Irrigation Systems.

“For projects with LGU participation, the equity requirement from concerned LGU will be maintained,” Gallardo said, adding that all back accounts or unpaid ISF, amortization and equity payments remain as liabilities of farmers and IAs.

She, however, stressed that corporate farms, plantations, fishponds and non agricultural crop users drawing water or using drainage facilities are not covered by the free irrigation service program, thus will still be charged by the corresponding ISF and/or drainage fee being charged by NIA. (JCM/JBG/PIA6-Capiz)