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Lumban farmers receive solar-powered irrigation system

Members of Wawa Ibayo Barangay Agricultural and Fishery Council (BAFC) in Lumban, Laguna are no longer using expensive batteries but solar power, and worry no more about the cost of irrigating their farmlands as they are now using an irrigation system that pumps up 64 liters of water per second for 25 hectares service area for rice and will enable them to plant and harvest thrice a year.

This was made possible as Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol led the turn-over of a PhP5.7-million solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) project to the farmer-beneficiaries on February 19, 2019.

Secretary Piñol recalled that the plan to develop SPIS was a result of his visit to rice-producing provinces in the county where he listened to farmers’ main concerns.

“This project is viable because the Philippines has natural and rich water resources – many rivers, tributaries, and lakes, so irrigation pumps can pull water from underground; and compared to irrigation systems that are costly and require millions of pesos for its construction, the SPIS is cheaper and can be built within three months,” he said during his speech.

The Secretary also recommended another technology called “fertigation” – in which fertilizer is applied with the irrigation water. “Through this process, fertilizer becomes precise and even for every rice area,” Piñol explained.

Regional Director Arnel V. de Mesa of the Department of Agriculture (DA) CALABARZON explained some of the details of the facility. “It is composed of 112 solar modules or panels, two 11-kilowatt pumps or motors, modern electronic control devices, highly-reliable flow meter gauge, concrete storage tank, and irrigation distribution pipelines,” he explained.

“Our project recipients are now responsible in the operation and maintenance of the system, including the cost of minor repairs and cost of parts after the warranty period, except for repairs that were caused by unforeseen circumstances,” Director de Mesa added.

SPIS is the flagship irrigation program introduced by Piñol as part of his 10-point agenda in uplifting the state of rice farming in the country.

Over 450 farmers all over the region attended the activity. Some of them got an opportunity to ask questions to the Secretary during the open forum. They also shared some of their concerns on irrigation, marketing rice, farm-to-market roads, land conversion, and others. Towards the end of Secretary Piñol’s message, he promised that areas surrounded by Laguna de Bay will be prioritized in the construction of SPIS.

Heads of other regional offices of DA and its attached agencies, agricultural program coordinating offices and provincial agriculture offices in the region, office of the municipal mayor of Lumban, other municipal government offices in Laguna, and other stakeholders supported the event. · ARC