Press Release
September 2, 2018

Drilon urges govt to boost agri infrastructure like Jalaur dam to prevent rice shortage, increase productivity

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Sunday said the rice shortage that hit some parts of the country could be attributed to poor agriculture infrastructure that stymied growth of agriculture sector.

"The government should take a closer look at the state of agriculture infrastructure in the country, if it wants to enhance agricultural productivity in order to prevent rice shortage and stop unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of the situation," Drilon said.

Drilon said "it is unfortunate that the Philippines, considered an agricultural country, has no sufficient rice on the table, which is a staple food of millions of Filipinos."

"Why did it happen? Because our farmers do not get the support they need in terms of infrastructure resulting in low harvest each year. We must therefore provide them infrastructure that can boost their production," he said.

Drilon thus urged the government to include in its build-build-build program more infrastructure support, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Drilon said one example of this much-needed infrastructure is the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Phase II (JRMP II). The signing of the contract for the construction of the project, between the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the project's contractor, Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd., is scheduled for September 3, 2018 (9am) at the National Irrigation Office in Quezon City.

"The contract signing for one of the biggest agricultural undertakings will bring us closer to our goal of improving agricultural production and stimulating agri-industrial activities,"Drilon said.

Drilon said the JRMP II will enhance agricultural productivity and prevent shortages of agricultural products, particularly rice, in the future.

The project, according to the senator, will contribute to the country's rice production target of 7.6 percent, as it will increase annual production of rice to 300,000 metric tons from 140,000 in Iloilo. The project will provide year-round irrigation to 31,840 hectares of farm lots in the province.

It was Drilon who initiated the project in April 2011 when he met with the Korean government for the funding requirement. The Korean government through its Export-Import Bank's Economic Development Cooperation Fund extended P8.95-billion as official development assistance. The government counterpart fund is P2.2 billion.

Drilon emphasized that the interest rate for Jalaur project is the lowest the country can get at 0.15 percent compared to loans being offered by China, which is three percent interest rate.

JRMP II includes the construction of 109-meter Jalaur high dam, 38.5-meter afterbay dam, 10-meter Alibunan catch dam, 80.74-kilometer high line canal; generation of new areas for irrigation; and rehabilitation of existing irrigation system.

Drilon said the Western Visayas is one of the many regions in the country, which suffered a decline in agriculture output due to poor infrastructure.

Among the sectors, the contribution of agriculture (in real terms) to the gross regional domestic output of Western Visayas registered a downward trend from 14.1 percent in 2010 to a negative 3.3 percent in 2013 brought about by a sharp decrease in sugarcane and palayproduction, Drilon said.

The volume of production for palay in the region has been on a decrease - from 2,292,201 metric tons (mt) in 2012, 2,090,790 mt in 2013, and 2,052,574 mt in 2014, he noted.

With the JRMP II, Drilon said the declining agricultural productivity will be addressed.

JRMP II was first implemented in 1960s after the fourth Congress passed Republic Act 2651, which provides for the construction of the JRMP in Iloilo. Its first phase was completed in 1980s but its second phase was derailed due to lack of funding.

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