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Investing in irrigation

The growing demand for irrigation can be met by the private sector by investing in water distribution projects for the farm sector, Rep. Joey Salceda said.

Salcedo pointed out that more than 70 percent of water demand in the country is from the agriculture but most of the investments in the sector are allocated to  household and industrial use.

Salceda said the Philippines uses up to 30.65 billion cubic meters of water every year, with agriculture taking up 22.68 billion cubic meters of this requirement.

“That’s where the private sector needs to mobilize because irrigation accounts for 70 percent of the entire water utilization. Potable water is 20 percent, industry is 10 percent,” he said.

Salceda also raised the necessity of putting up a Department of Water Resources that will would be tasked to explore innovations and mechanisms  through which the private sector can maximize its finite resources.

“That is why we need this department to explore innovative mechanisms that will allow private sector participation. The private sector has the money, the state has too many expenses. What we need is a mechanism which will link sustainable water resources with private players in the industry,” he added.

Salceda said the Philippines has about 146 billion cubic meters of untapped water resources. More than 86 percent of it, or 125.8 billion cubic meters, are surface water, while the remaining 20.2 billion cubic meters are ground water.

The prudent and efficient utilization of an important resource like water would certainly benefit a struggling sector like agriculture that turns out to be its biggest consumer. Our country that has failed to deliver much needed water in the most efficient and affordable manner to farmlands whose productivity would increase with more access to irrigation should consider tapping the private sector to do a better job.*

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