SOLAR POWER. The solar panels used to power the irrigation system for rice and sugarcane farms in Barangay Bato, Hinigaran, Negros Occidental. The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture. (Photo courtesy of the Negros Occidental Office of the Provincial Agriculturist/RU Foundry)
BACOLOD CITY -- Some 60 farming families in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental who are into rice and sugarcane production are benefiting from the PHP5.99-million solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a Facebook post on Sunday that Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino informed him such irrigation facility in Barangay Bato is the first of its kind in the province.
“Rice and sugarcane farmers in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental who have relied on rains all their lives…are now enjoying the blessings of the magic of modern agriculture technology through the SPIS,” he said.
Piñol said the SPIS could irrigate 60 hectares of rice farms and 40 hectares of sugarcane fields.
The facility in the southern Negros town is one of the almost 200 units being established all over the country as part of the DA’s modernization program, he added.
Piñol’ was quoted saying that “previously, farmers either relied on rain or used diesel engine driven pumps”, adding that they have also tried using electric-driven pumps but the cost was too high for the farmers.
“With this solar power, the farmers will save a lot of money and it will increase their productivity,” he added.
In Western Visayas, the DA-Regional Field Unit 6 has identified 34 sites for the establishment of the SPIS. The first nine units funded by the agency in 2018 included the one in Hinigaran.
The eight others are located in Patnongon, Antique; Guimbal, Iloilo; and Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center in Jaro, Iloilo City for corn; Sibalom, Antique; Pototan and Dingle, Iloilo; Jamindan, Capiz; and Madalag, Aklan for rice.
Piñol said the DA is also working to avail a PHP44-B loan from the Israeli government to establish 6,200 units of computerized SPIS which could provide water for 500,000 hectares.
Out of the number, Western Visayas is entitled to 388 units, or 65 in every province, the DA-RFU 6 earlier said. (PNA)