The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Wednesday said it was still waiting for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to submit its proposal for the solar powered irrigation systems (SPIS) project.
This is contrary to a report that the SPIS has already obtained the approval of NEDA’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) in April.
“As of date, the NEDA Secretariat has yet to receive the DA’s submission of the proposal for the SPIS,” said NEDA in a press statement.
“The NEDA Secretariat is coordinating with the DA on its submission for facilitation of ICC action,” it added.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is pushing for the massive adoption in the country of the SPIS, which, he said, is much cheaper, faster to put up, allows more rice crops, and makes rice sufficiency attainable.
He said the conventional system of the National Irrigation Administration at present cannot meet all of the country’s farm irrigation needs.
“We have land, but the issue is providing water there. So, we must think out of the box,” Piñol said earlier.
Department of Agriculture data showed that of the 3.9 million hectares of rice farms nationwide, only 1.2 million hectares are irrigated.
The bigger 2.7 million hectares depend on rain and the farmers can only plant once a year.
Piñol said the SPIS can be set up within months. The whole equipment consists of just solar panels that absorb sunlight to generate electricity for the system, pump and its operating device, water storage facility, and pipes for conveying water to a farm.
He estimates the development cost of the SPIS at about PHP105,000 per hectare.
In March last year, the government launched an SPIS prototype in North Cotabato, where President Rodrigo Duterte was a guest. The facility now irrigates 40 hectares of previously rain-fed rice farms.
Piñol targets a total of 117 SPIS built nationwide this year to irrigate nearly 5,000 hectares or rice farms. (PNA)