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Mar 17, 2017 @ 17:24

DA eyes Iloilo as priority area for solar-powered irrigation system

The Department of Agriculture’s proposal to establish a solar-powered irrigation system will benefit farmers from Iloilo, according to Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Secretary Piñol who is in Iloilo Thursday said that the province is a major rice-producing area and it can produce more with the additional support. He added that he could not wait for the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) to be completed because Iloilo farmers need support.

“We hope we can introduce this to Iloilo because this is the fastest way of providing water to our farmers,” he said in an interview with the local media.

Piñol, with the help of Rocky French, an Ilonggo-American he met in southern California, built a prototype of the system back in his hometown in Cotabato. It was inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte last February 3.

He said that French has a fishpond in the middle of the desert. He draws water underneath the ground – 1200 feet – using solar power.

The model system, with only 56 solar panels, can run a 10 horse-power water pump. It can pump out around 800 to 1,000 gallons of water per minute and can irrigate 100 hectares.

It is inexpensive because the system, not to include the reservoir, will only cost Php5 million. Also, it can be built in less than a month, he said.

The secretary added that one system will be built in Iloilo this year, but they hope to go massive starting next year, to be established in rice areas that need water.

“I am happy that the President was convinced. He is very excited about this concept and I am asking for about Php20 billion for next year and every year thereafter during the Duterte administration because we are targeting to irrigate one million hectares over the next five years,” he stated.

The secretary started his regional sortie in Antique and Aklan on Wednesday as his way of reaching out to farmers and “to look into the peculiar problem of their place.”

“We know that they have long been neglected, not have been given their due share of government resources. There are specific problems in specific areas,” he said.

He disclosed that in Aklan, DA will be supporting their tissue culture program for the piña fiber industry. He also lauded as a good strategy the farmers’ drive to be able to provide food supply to the growing market of the province, given the influx of tourists.

In Antique, he said that 15 patrol boats were distributed in response to the concern of the farmers to protect their fishing grounds.

It’s a bit “dramatic” in Capiz, he said, because it was the first time that farmers were able to interact with the secretary and were given straightforward answers as whether or not the department could address their concerns.

“Iloilo is a sentimental journey for me, this being the province of my parents,” he said.

Meanwhile, he revealed that he has discussed with Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. sitting at the National Irrigation (NIA) board, citing the need for his department to connect with the irrigation system.

However, he could do nothing about the JRMP because of a pending case filed in court by one of the bidders.

He emphasized though that he and President Duterte are interested with the project.

The JRMP, which is expected to be the biggest dam to be built outside of Luzon, could irrigate 31,840 hectares of farmlands in 22 towns of Iloilo once realized.

It can also be a source of potable water for Iloilo City and its neighboring towns as well as generate electricity for adjacent communities in Calinog, Iloilo. (PNA)


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