Solar Irrigation for PH farmers pushed


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Photo credit from Philippine Information Agency (Written by Manny Piñol, Department of Agriculture Secretary)

President Rody Duterte in March 2017 launched Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) program, which is new innovation introduced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide irrigation water to the farms, not only rice farms.

Today, there 169 units being constructed all over the country.Using solar panels to power water drawing engines, the SPIS could source water from deep rivers, creeks, water impounding and even wells.

Each unit could irrigate up to 100 hectares, depending on the source of water and it saves farmers from the high cost of diesel fuel which they need for their water pumps.

Since it relies on solar power, the SPIS is ideal for the dry season planting, including periods of drought when even the regular Irrigation Systems of NIA could not provide water.

There is no interruption in the supply of water, unlike NIA which closes the irrigation systems when they maintain the dikes and the canals, because the water is distributed through plastic pipes.

SPIS is a lot cheaper compared to conventional water systems since the development cost per hectare is only about P120,000 compared to about P450,000 in the NIA systems.

It can be constructed in less than six months and the coverage area is expandable by building a bigger reservoir and adding more pipes.

With SPIS, fertilization and even the application of herbicides could now be done by simply mixing the fertilizer or herbicides in the water kept in the reservoir thus adding to farm efficiency.

How can Solar Irrigation be attained by farmers?

For farmers who have areas which they believe are suitable to the SPIS, we ask them to help us get funding for the project by talking to their Congressmen and asking them to lobby for the allocation of funds for the SOLAR POWERED IRRIGATION SYSTEM PROGRAM of the DA.

This needs to be done because many of our budget planners still do not appreciate the impact of the SPIS on greater agricultural productivity.

From over 100 units in 2017 and 2018, our budget for the SPIS in 2019 will only allow us to build 11 units.

Farmers should convince their Congressmen to get funding for SPIS in their districts.

Regions that use solar irrigation for farming

In Cagayan Valley region, specifically in Brgy.San Esteban in Alcala, the first solar-powered irrigation project was already completed,

As cited in the report of Baquiran, “farmer–members of the San Esteban Small Water Impounding System Association (SWISA) expressed joy and optimism over the project saying that they can now save on gasoline expenses as they used to utilize mechanical water pump to irrigate their farms. ”

Francisco Versola, Barangay Captain of San Steban, imparted that the project will enable them  yield  higher outputs and attain lesser input costs.

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Nath Mindanao

An Agribusiness economist. I scribble more about agriculture, politics and economics.

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