Llanera gets first, big­gest so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem

Agriculture - - Contents - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

MARGINALIZED FARM­ERS in Llanera, Nueva Ecija will have some­thing to be proud of af­ter the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA) im­ple­mented the Cari­dad Norte and Sur So­lar Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem in their area, which is be­lieved to be the first and big­gest of its kind in Lu­zon.

The So­lar-Pow­ered Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem (SPIS) is a pi­lot project of the DA Re­gional Field Of­fice 3 (DA-RFO 3) to en­hance and sus­tain rice pro­duc­tion in the high­land rain­fed ar­eas of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. It was re­al­ized through the ef­forts of DA-RFO 3 Re­gional Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Roy M. Abaya and DA-RFO 3 As­sis­tant Re­gional Di­rec­tor for Op­er­a­tions & Ex­ten­sion Crispulo G. Bautista, Jr., and con­structed and in­stalled by Ba­colod Ci­ty­based R.U. Foundry and Ma­chine Shop Cor­po­ra­tion (RUFMSC), one of the lead­ing pro­po­nents for the de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­tural mech­a­niza­tion in the coun­try.

Direct ben­e­fi­cia­ries un­der the SPIS are some 125 rice farm­ers who are mem­bers of the Cari­dad Norte and Sur Ir­ri­ga­tors As­so­ci­a­tion or CNSIA.

The fa­cil­ity is com­posed of some 140 Lorentz so­lar pan­els, a 40-horse­power Lorentz sub­mersible pump, state-of-the-art elec­tronic con­trol de­vices, a highly-re­li­able flow me­ter gauge, con­crete stor­age tank, and ir­ri­ga­tion dis­tri­bu­tion pipe­lines. The pho­to­voltaic (PV) pan­els were in­stalled on pre­ci­sion-en­gi­neered alu­minium frames to with­stand ex­treme weather con­di­tions, which were an­chored on depend­able con­crete posts. The fa­cil­ity draws its water source from a nearby river and pumped to the

stor­age tank for dis­tri­bu­tion to the nearby farm­lands.

With a cost of some PhP 7 mil­lion, the so­lar­pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to sup­ply the water needs to ir­ri­gate some 50 to 70 hectares of rice­lands, on a ro­ta­tion ba­sis, in Cari­dad Norte and Cari­dad Sur, which for­merly de­pended on rain­wa­ter only.

In ar­eas like these two barangays, so­lar­pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties are in­creas­ingly and con­tin­u­ously in de­mand in or­der to pro­vide a cost-ef­fec­tive and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to boost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity. Ac­cess to ir­ri­ga­tion water is the key for many small scale farm­ers in or­der to sus­tain their liveli­hoods and at­tain food se­cu­rity.

As part of its ad­vo­cacy of pro­mot­ing agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment, RUFMSC, un­der its chair­man of the board Ra­mon Uy, Sr., pro­vided ad­di­tional im­prove­ments—at no ex­tra cost to the gov­ern­ment—to the project to en­hance the

so­lar fa­cil­ity’s per­for­mance. The fa­cil­ity was com­pleted on time through the con­certed ef­forts of project en­gi­neer Fred Lista, and civil works en­gi­neer Marvin Gon­zaga, both of RUFMSC and Eco­log­i­cal and Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion, Inc. (Eco-Agri).

In most agri­cul­tural ar­eas of the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly those in the coun­try­side, the avail­abil­ity of ir­ri­ga­tion water de­pends mostly on mon­soon rains or power needed to op­er­ate water pumps. Due to a lack of elec­tric­ity, diesel-op­er­ated water pumps are usu­ally used to pump water for ir­ri­ga­tion pur­poses. How­ever, the use of diesel-pow­ered en­gines has sev­eral dis­ad­van­tages like the ever-in­creas­ing prices of fuel which will di­rectly af­fect the eco­nomic suc­cess of the farm­ers, and of course, its ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment. It can be there­fore noted that re­new­able en­ergy op­tions, par­tic­u­larly so­lar power, is a very promis­ing so­lu­tion to help at­tain sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture in the coun­try­side.

For his part, Lista, project en­gi­neer of RUFMSC, says the re­li­a­bil­ity of the SPIS in Llanera is backed by their ex­pe­ri­ence in in­stalling other sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try that taught them what is needed to de­sign re­li­able so­lar-pow­ered fa­cil­i­ties us­ing Ger­man tech­nol­ogy-based Lorentz equip­ment and sup­plies. “We choose the right ma­te­ri­als and pro­duc­tion tech­niques to give the fa­cil­i­ties we con­struct a longer life, even in the most dif­fi­cult weather con­di­tions. Through the use of Lorentz so­lar pump­ing sys­tems, we can help trans­form un­pro­duc­tive land into pro­duc­tive farms and even­tu­ally im­prove the yields from ex­ist­ing crops.”

As this de­vel­oped, CNSIA chair­man Roger Bautista ex­pressed grat­i­tude for the award­ing the use­ful project to them, which ma­te­ri­al­ized through the ef­forts of the DA-RFO 3. “We thank the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture headed by Sec­re­tary Manny Piñol be­cause we can now have a sec­ond crop­ping. If there is no ir­ri­ga­tion, we will have no in­come and this so­lar pump is a big help to us since we will not be us­ing diesel any­more.”

Af­ter all, pro­vid­ing water to lo­ca­tions that do not have any ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture is prac­ti­cally im­prov­ing food se­cu­rity and help­ing the ru­ral farm­ers to gen­er­ate sub­stan­tial in­come for their fam­i­lies and their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties. It is there­fore timely to con­sider the ad­van­tages and prac­ti­cal­ity of so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems in or­der to pro­mot­ede­vel­op­ment in the coun­try­side.

So­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems are de­signed to help farm­ers in the re­mote ar­eas to ir­ri­gate their farm­land, which will even­tu­ally in­crease their pro­duc­tion dur­ing the dry months. This will re­sult in the in­crease of the farm­ers’ in­come, and en­able them to save on fuel costs. They can also en­able farm­ers to shift from ex­pen­sive and pol­lu­tion-caus­ing diesel-pow­ered pumps to­wards sus­tain­able and ef­fi­cient water source.

Aside from pro­vid­ing water for ir­ri­ga­tion pur­poses, the sys­tem can also be used to sup­ply water to hard to reach com­mu­ni­ties, which farm­ers can use to ven­ture into live­stock rais­ing and veg­etable gar­den­ing.

En­vi­ron­ment-friendly fa­cil­i­ties will make the agri­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties a bet­ter place to live while help­ing farm­ers be­come more pro­duc­tive and self-re­liant.

Ac­cess to suf­fi­cient ir­ri­ga­tion water is the key for many small-scale farm­ers in or­der to sus­tain their liveli­hoods and at­tain food se­cu­rity.

The fa­cil­ity draws its water source from a nearby river; the water is pumped to the stor­age tank for dis­tri­bu­tion to the nearby farm­lands.

The pho­to­voltaic (PV) pan­els, or so­lar pan­els, were in­stalled on pre­ci­sion-en­gi­neered alu­minum frames to with­stand ex­treme weather con­di­tions.

RUFMSC chair­man of the board Ra­mon Uy Sr. (cen­ter) con­fers with Llanera mayor Ron­nie Roy Pas­cual (left) and DA-RFO 3 As­sis­tant Re­gional Di­rec­tor for Op­er­a­tions and Ex­ten­sion Crispulo Bautista Jr. re­gard­ing the salient fea­tures of the so­lar ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity.

RUFMSC project en­gi­neer Fred Lista says the re­li­a­bil­ity of the SPIS in Llanera is backed by their ex­pe­ri­ence in in­stalling other sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try.

So­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties can en­able the farm­ers to shift from ex­pen­sive and pol­lu­tion­caus­ing diesel-pow­ered pumps to­wards sus­tain­able and ef­fi­cient water sources.

Uy (fourth from right) poses with key of­fi­cials of the DA, mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment of Llanera, and other guests dur­ing the re­cent ini­tial test­ing of the Cari­dad Norte and Sur So­lar Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem.

Marvin Gon­zaga while in­spect­ing the pipeline lead­ing to the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity.

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