THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will pilot a solar-powered irrigation in Iloilo in 2017 amid the delay in the construction of the multi-billion peso Jalaur mega dam, said Secretary Manny Pinol on Mar. 16, 2017.
Pinol, who met with Iloilo farmers at WESVIARC in Jaro, Iloilo City, is stepping up agriculture projects and programs to catch up with the growing food demands of the country and to provide farmers necessary support.
“A lot should be done for Iloilo. This delay in Jalaur irrigation system, for example, is a major problem,” said Pinol.
The solar-powered irrigation unlike the P11.2-billion Jalaur mega dam project, is inexpensive and takes only a month to build, he said.
He said the irrigation prototype in Cotabato, which is comprised of six solar panels, can run 10 horsepower water pump that can generate 800 to 1000 gallons per minute, and can irrigate up to 100 hectares of lands.
Pinol stressed the urgent need for massive irrigation of farmlands in the country, citing the 1.9 percent growth rate of population yearly.
He explained this population growth rate requires irrigation of 80,000 farmlands yearly.
“But in 2016, only 10,000 of lands were irrigated by NIA. How can we feed the Filipino people if this is the way we do things?” he stressed.
Pinol said DA will start with one solar-powered irrigation system this year.
The former Cotabato governor, whose parents are from Iloilo, said he has asked President Duterte for P20-billion budget in 2018, and every year thereafter. The DA targets to irrigate one million hectare in the next five years.
“Iloilo is major target because it is one of the major rice producers in the country,” Pinol said.
The site of the project is yet to be determined, but it should be in areas where there are no open sources of water.