DA completes 13 solar powered irrig system

For years, many Bicolano farmers especially those in the upland areas have to rely on rainfall to irrigate their farms. Those who can afford have to spend quite a sum to use a gasoline - or diesel- powered engine to pump water from the source to their rice fields.

It is thus a great relief to Bicolano farmers that the Department of Agriculture Bicol has invested in Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS), which is more affordable and practical in remote areas. Using solar-energy is one of the cheapest, sustainable and most accessible means farmers can use to produce energy and make water accessible in their area.

Thirteen units of these completed SPIS worth P75 million funded under the Rice Program were recently completed and 10 of which were formally turned over to 10 farmers associations in Camarines Sur and Sorsogon by DA Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla. The other three units, two from Camarines Norte and another one in Camarines Sur are to be formally turned over anytime soon to their recipients.

Each unit with a minimum cost of P 6 million can irrigate a minimum of 10 hectares up to 50 hectares of potential irrigable areas and can benefit over 225 farmers. Increase in production by 20 percent to 30 percent (from 60 cavans even up to over 100 cavans) were attained by the farmers in the region who are now enjoying the benefits of this project.

Director Tornilla who personally went to the sites and turned over to the 11 farmers associations/recipients of the project underscored the two major objectives of the project, which are to increase rice production and subsequently increase the income of farmers. He challenged them to consolidate their resources or group themselves into cluster so that they can maximize or optimize the use of the various interventions being provided by the DA and other agencies.

He announced that DA’s interventions will now be coursed through to groups or associations. He also took the opportunity to thank the farmers for their critical role in providing food for our people amidst the threat of the pandemic and the restricted movements and mobility. “Kung tumigil kayo sa pagtatanim wala sanang makakain and ating mga kababayan”, he acknowledged.

Domingo Cordial, president of the Bahay and Quitang Farmers Association in the municipality of Pasacao considered it a great blessing for small farmers like him: “Dakulang grasya ini sa samong mga saradit na paraoma”, he enthuses. “Papadangaton mi ining proyektong ini” (We will treasure and take good care of this project), he added.

The project will give a big savings to them according to the farmer beneficiaries. “Super tipid na kami sa gastos sa oma”, gushes Evelyn Lumapag, president of Cabangal Palsong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and Fisherfolk Cooperative in Bula Camarines Sur. “Dati nagagastos kami average na P6,000 per hectare per cropping sa fuel lang. Ngonian na libre na su gastos mi sa krudo. Kaya dakulang kagianan ini samo”, (We used to spend an average of P6,000 per hectare per cropping for fuel alone. Today we don’t have to spend for it.) she shared. “Dati ang naani mi mga 60 sakos sana nin paroy kada cropping. Kan igwa nakaini nakaka-ani na kami abot 100 sakos kada ektarya”, (We used to harvest an average of 60 sacks per hectare per cropping. Now we harvest up to 100 cavans per hectare) she narrated.

Clifton Sison, president of Sta. Remedios Farmers Association in Bulan, Sorsogon bared that their association will be collecting from their members voluntary contributions to be reserved for the maintenance of the SPIS. Just like the other farmer beneficiaries from the other municipalities he is very hopeful that the average rice production of their upland rice farmer members will significantly increase from an average yield of 40 to 60 cavans per hectare and even more than 100 cavans per hectare.

“Maraming salamat po, kahit napakalayo ng lugar naming nakarating kayo para tulungan kami at saka malaking bagay itong binigay ninyo at marami pang ibang tulong na naibigay na ninyo. Wala naman masasandalan kaming mga magsasaka kundi kayo. Maraming Salamat DA.” Sison gratefully acknowledged. For his part, vice mayor and concurrently acting mayor Ronaldo Franco of Pamplona who witnessed the turn over of the SPIS to the Veneracion Farmers and Urban Poor Association in their municipality acknowledged the importance of the project citing that it is low maintenance and can boost production as farmers can plant and fertilize their farm anytime with the availability of water from the SPIS. But he also called on the need to focus not only on rice farmers but also on vegetable farmers who abound in their municipality. He offered that LGU can also as allocate funds as counterpart to DA’s assistance for rice and vegetable seeds and other interventions. “Ini an tunay na partnership between DA and LGU.”, he underscored.

Mayor Niño A. Tayco of Pasacao, Camarines Sur who also graced the turn over to Bahay and Quintang Farmers Association also committed the LGU’s support to the project beneficiaries of the SPIS in terms of project maintenance, technical assistance and strengthening the farmers organization. He also acknowledged the support of the DA: “Halos lahat ng tulong at suporta ay ibinigay na”, he declared.

The other farmers associations which received the SPIS through their respective presidents are: Baliuag Nuevo Farmers Association in Minalabac headed by Julio Rabiñan; Mangkawayan Irrigators Association Inc. of Libmanan headed by Dante Geverila; Cagmanaba Agrarian Reform Farmers Beneficiary Association in Ocampo headed by Luiz Borromeo; Banasi Farmers Association in Bula headed by Randy Cirlo; Nabua Coconut Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in said municipality headed by Trinidad Sarzoso; Aguik-ikan Farmers Association in Nabua headed by Edgardo Ruin; and Lupi-Sakayan Beberon Farmers Association in San Fernando headed by Glorioso Cado.

The three more units of SPIS set to be turned over anytime soon to the following associations: the Napundan Farmers & Fisherfolk Association in Talisay headed by Edwin A. de la Cruz and the Samahan ng Magsasaka at Magniniyog at Mangingisda ng Basiad (SMMMB) in Sta Elena headed by Felimon Padel and; Baliuag Nuevo Farmers Association in Minalabac, Camarines Sur headed by Julio Rabiñan Since this SPIS was launched in Bicol in 2018 there are already 14 units constructe¬¬d which are already operational. Four more units are under construction. The Regional Agricultural Engineering Division (RAED] takes charge of validating, evaluating project proposals and applications for these projects.

While Bicol has 176,656.88 hectares physical rice area only 109,032.91 hectares are irrigated. About 57,000 hectares are rainfed and over 10,600 hectares are upland. The SPIS are indeed the best option in areas where big irrigation systems are not feasible and they can contribute significantly to increase yield of rice and other crops in rainfed and upland areas. (Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS V)