SO­LAR IR­RI­GA­TION FA­CIL­ITY STARTS TO BEN­E­FIT FARM­ERS

Agriculture - - Boon To Farmers -

JUST SEV­ERAL MONTHS fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of a so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem in a re­mote barangay of Llan­era in Nueva Ecija, farm­ers have al­ready started to ben­e­fit from the fa­cil­ity, al­low­ing them to ex­pand their pro­duc­tion ar­eas.

Mem­bers of the Cari­dad Norte and Sur Ir­ri­ga­tors As­so­ci­a­tion (CNSIA) claimed that the fa­cil­ity ac­corded them the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand their rice­fields from 100 hectares to 200 hectares due to the suf­fi­cient wa­ter sup­ply com­ing from the so­lar­pow­ered pump.

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the fa­cil­ity, CNSIA vice pres­i­dent Roger Bautista proudly said ma­jor­ity of their mem­bers have be­come more ac­tive in till­ing their farm­lands, which for­merly de­pended on rain­wa­ter alone.

This was even at­tested by Llan­era mu­nic­i­pal agrar­ian re­form of­fi­cer (MARO) El­iz­a­beth Pa­cada, say­ing that from the former 70 hectares of veg­etable plan­ta­tions, they were able to ex­pand the said area to 100 hectares, pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional in­come to the lo­cal veg­etable farm­ers.

The Cari­dad Norte and Sur So­lar Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem which was con­structed in Barangay Cari­dad Norte is un­der the So­lar-Pow­ered Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem (SPIS) pro­gram of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA) that is be­ing ad­vo­cated by DA Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol.

The SPIS is a pi­lot project of the DA

Re­gional Field Office 3 (DA-RFO 3) in Llan­era 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 DARFO 3 As­sis­tant Re­gional Director for Op­er­a­tions & Ex­ten­sion Crispulo G. Bautista, Jr.

Ac­cord­ing to the DA-RFO 3, the so­lar fa­cil­ity, which is claimed to be the “first and big­gest” of its kind in Lu­zon, was con­structed and in­stalled by Ba­colod City-based R.U. Foundry and Ma­chine Shop Cor­po­ra­tion (RUFMSC), a pro­po­nent for the de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­ture in the coun­try.

CNSIA pres­i­dent Paulino Mimis also said that more than 125 rice farm­ers who are mem­bers of the co­op­er­a­tive can now cul­ti­vate more crops with the com­ple­tion of the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem which the DA im­ple­mented.

Com­posed of 140Lorentz so­lar pan­els, a 40-horse­power Lorentz sub­mersible pump, state-of-the-art elec­tronic con­trol de­vices, highly-re­li­able flow me­ter gauge, con­crete stor­age tank, and ir­ri­ga­tion dis­tri­bu­tion pipe­lines, the R7 mil­lion fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to sup­ply the wa­ter needs to ir­ri­gate some 50 to 70 hectares of farm­lands, in a ro­ta­tion ba­sis, in Cari­dad Norte and Cari­dad Sur, which for­merly de­pended on rain­wa­ter only.

Ac­cord­ing to Pa­cada, ac­cess to ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter is the key for many small farm­ers in Llan­era to sus­tain their liveli­hoods and at­tain food se­cu­rity.

In ar­eas like the said two barangays, so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties are in­creas­ingly and con­tin­u­ously in de­mand in or­der to pro­vide a cost-ef­fec­tive and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to boost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Pa­cada added that the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment has also started to ben­e­fit from the fa­cil­ity in terms of sav­ing the fuel sub­sidy it pro­vides to the barangays of Cari­dad Norte and Cari­dad Sur for their diesel-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion pump.

With lack of elec­tric­ity, diesel-op­er­ated wa­ter pumps are usu­ally used to pump wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion pur­poses.

But 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 harsh ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment.

Re­new­able en­ergy op­tions, like the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem is a very promis­ing so­lu­tion to help at­tain sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture in the coun­try­side.

In the barangays of Cari­dad Norte and Cari­dad Sur, the avail­abil­ity of ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter for­merly de­pended only on

mon­soon rains or the power needed to op­er­ate wa­ter pumps.

“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,” Bautista said in the lo­cal ver­nac­u­lar.

The visit to the fa­cil­ity co­in­cided with the “Pi­lot Per­for­mance As­sess­ment of So­lar-Pow­ered Ir­ri­ga­tion Sys­tem” which was re­cently ini­ti­ated by the DA-RFO 3 in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.

The two-day event was at­tended by var­i­ous DA of­fi­cials and per­son­nel com­ing from the dif­fer­ent re­gions and prov­inces of the coun­try.

Fol­low­ing the sem­i­nar proper and fa­mil­iar­ity on the project, the par­tic­i­pants were brought to the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity in Llan­era to con­duct ac­tual data gath­er­ing, and hands-on op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures un­der the guid­ance of RUFMSC project en­gi­neer Fred Lista and RUFMSC civil works en­gi­neer Marvin Gon­zaga.

So­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems are de­signed to help farm­ers in the re­mote ar­eas to ir­ri­gate their farm­lands, which will even­tu­ally in­crease their pro­duc­tion dur­ing the dry months.

So­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties will also en­able the farm­ers to shift from ex­pen­sive and pol­lu­tion-caus­ing diesel-pow­ered pumps to sus­tain­able and ef­fi­cient wa­ter sources.

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

RUFMSC project en­gi­neer Fred Lista (cen­ter) poses with CNSIA vice pres­i­dent Roger Bautista (left), and CNSIA pres­i­dent Paulino Mimis at the so­lar fa­cil­ity.

Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem in Llan­era, Nueva Ecija, farm­ers have al­ready ex­pand their pro­duc­tion ar­eas.

For­merly a bar­ren land, this por­tion in Barangay Cari­dad Norte can now be used as a pro­duc­tive farm­land due to the so­lar ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity.

DA of­fi­cials and per­son­nel com­ing from the dif­fer­ent re­gions and prov­inces of the coun­try saw how wa­ter was ef­fi­ciently dis­trib­uted in the com­mu­nity.

The par­tic­i­pants were brought to the so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­ity to con­duct ac­tual data gath­er­ing, and hands-on op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures un­der the guid­ance of Lista.

Two DA tech­ni­cal per­son­nel are shown while record­ing the date from the state-of-the-art con­trol sys­tem of the so­lar fa­cil­ity.

DA of­fi­cials and per­son­nel in­spect the im­pound­ing tank of the fa­cil­ity.

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