JUBAN, Sorsogon-- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) recently turned over a solar-powered irrigation pump (SPIP) project to a group of farmers in Juban, Sorsogon.
The project, implemented under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – Irrigation Component (CARP-IC) of the DAR and NIA, costs a total of P12 million.
It was turned over to members of the Catan-agan Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. based in Juban, a 4th class municipality, 36 kilometers away from Sorsogon City, upon its completion this year, for the group to manage the facility and help their members boost their rice yield.
“This is the first SPIP project of the NIA and DAR in Bicol. It aims to irrigate a total of 89 hectares of palay in the locality,” Engr. Emma A. Manlagnit of NIA said in a news release. The Catan-agan Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. has close to 100 members.
“Currently, we have six pumps, but the final design will consist of nine pumps. Each pump is equipped with 27 solar panels. The remaining three pumps will be built next year if further funding is granted, so there is no need for concern. Our only problem is the lack of canals. And with DAR’s help, canal systems can be improved,” she said.
According to Manlagnit, the first phase of the project was completed in January 2019, but the third and final phase has still to be implemented.
The solar panels can last up to 25 years if properly maintained. However, due to the sensitivity of solar panels, the government rarely grants this type of project,” she added.
Rosalio H. Olaybar, the 62-year-old president of Catan-agan farmer group, revealed that their yields had already increased in 2019 after NIA completed the first phase with three solar pumps. He said members of their group now harvest up to 100 bags of palay per harvest season, which is a significant increase compared to prior years without a sufficient water irrigation supply.
He said, he anticipates that the project’s phase 2 completion will also raise palay production in several palay-producing areas of the community.
Olaybar, a farmer for the past 44 years and one of the beneficiaries of the project, said solar or sun-powered irrigation had given then a newfound hope in doing business in agriculture.
DAR Sorsogon agrarian reform chief Nida Santiago said the SPIP will be beneficial to many rice producers because the engine, powered by solar panels, no longer requires diesel fuel, thus, cutting the cost of farmers’ expenses in farming.
Achilles Alindogan, municipal councilor, and chairman of the local government unit’s agriculture sector recommended to the town Mayor Antonio Alindogan, to prioritize water sufficiency in Juban because of the prevailing water scarcity that is seriously affecting the production of local farmers.
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