The “first and biggest” solar-powered irrigation system in Luzon was completed in Llanera, Nueva Ecija following its successful initial testing conducted last Friday.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) implemented the Caridad Norte and Sur Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS), which 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.
The project 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 City-based R.U. Foundry and Machine Shop Corporation (RUFMSC).
Some 125 rice farmers who are members of the Caridad Norte and Sur Irrigators Association (CNSIA) are expected to benefit under the SPIS.
The facility is composed of 140 Lorentz 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 photovoltaic (PV) panels were installed on precision-engineered aluminium frames to withstand extreme weather conditions, which were anchored on dependable concrete posts.
With a cost of some P7 million, the solar-powered irrigation facility is expected to supply the water needs to irrigate some 50 to 70 hectares of ricelands, in a rotation basis, in the barangays of Caridad Norte and Caridad Sur, which formerly depended on rainwater only.
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.
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 the leadership of its chairman of the board Ramon Uy Sr. provided additional improvements on the project, at no extra cost to the government, to enhance the solar facility’s performance.
The facility was completed “on time” through the efforts of project engineer Fred Lista, and civil works engineer Marvin Gonzaga, both of RUFMSC and Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc.
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.
With 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 directly affects the economic success of the farmers, and of course, its effect on the environment.
It can be noted that renewable energy options, particularly solar power, is a very promising solution to help attain sustainable agriculture in the countryside.
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.
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.
Environment-friendly facilities will make the agricultural communities a better place to live, at the same time, help the farmers to become productive and self-reliant.
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