Abra’s upland rice farms to be irrigated by solar-powered irrigation
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that upland rice farmers of Abra, who relied on rain and planted only once a year with an average production of less than 3 metric tons (MT) per hectare, could now expect to harvest as much as 18 tons in one year.
This, as the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) units in the province are now operational.
This week, four of the six SPIS allocated for the province in 2018 were turned over to several farmers’ organizations in the area.
Piñol said the water for the SPIS systems comes from the Abra and Tineg Rivers whose banks are deep, preventing the establishment of the traditional irrigation systems.
“Nobody believed me when I told them in 2016 that we will be able to irrigate our upland rice farms,” said Congressman JB Bernos, who was one of the officials of the Cordillera Region who met with Piñol in Baguio City in 2016.
It was then when Piñol introduced the new program of the DA which involved the use of Solar technology to power pumps to draw water from rivers and underground to irrigate farm lands.
Abra Governor Joy Varela-Bernos said the SPIS is expected to change the lives of upland rice farmers who in the past could only plant once a year.
The first six SPIS units in the province were programmed to irrigate only 60 hectares but Bernos pledged to provide counterpart funds for additional piping systems which would allow water to cover as much as 240 hectares.