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2:56 pm on 11 July 2022, Monday
Ninety-seven (97) farmers of Barangay Catan-agan in Juban, Sorsogon, received solar-powered irrigation pump projects from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
The P12-million project was turned over to Catan-agan Farmers Irrigators Association, Inc. to help farmers increase their rice yield.
"This is the first SPIP project of the NIA and DAR in Bicol. It aims to irrigate a total of 89 hectares of palay in the locality," said NIA Engr. Emma Manlagnit.
"Currently, we have six pumps, but the final design will consist of nine pumps. Each pump is equipped with 27 solar panels. The remaining three pumps will be built next year if further funding is granted, so there is no need for concern. Our only problem is the lack of canals. And with DAR's help, canal systems can be improved," she said.
According to Manlagnit, the project's first phase was completed in January 2019, but the third and final phase is still to be implemented.
"These solar panels can last up to 25 years if properly maintained. Due to the sensitivity of solar panels, the government rarely grants this type of project," she added.
Rosalio H. Olaybar, the 62-year-old president of Catan-again Farmer IA, revealed that their yields increased in 2019 after NIA completed the first phase with three solar pumps.
According to him, they can now harvest up to 100 bags of palay per harvest season, a significant increase compared to prior years without a sufficient water irrigation supply.
He said he anticipates that the project's phase 2 completion will also increase palay production in several palay-producing areas of the community.
Meanwhile, Olaybar, a farmer for the past 44 years, praised DAR and NIA for providing newfound hope for their agricultural pursuits.
Sorsogon agrarian reform chief Nida Santiago said the SPIP would benefit many rice producers because the engine, powered by solar panels, no longer requires crude oil, thus, cutting the cost of farmers' farm expenses.