Sec. Piñol responds to the concern of one of the contractors during the discussion

“The Solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) is the answer to the country’s rice shortage problems,” Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol stressed during the discussion on the Consultation on DA’s SPIS Projects.

The consultation was spearheaded by the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE), in coordination with the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) on June 11, 2018 at Apacible Hall in Quezon City that gathered participants from concerned government agencies, private sectors, contractor, and suppliers.

The SPIS is “an irrigation system powered by solar energy, instead of fossil fuel or electricity. It consists of one or more solar panels (also known as solar modules or solar plates), a pump, electronic controls or a controller device to operate the pump, storage tank, and conveyance structures.”

Sec. Piñol said that the department is requesting approximately Php60B to fund the project to irrigate 500,000ha for the remaining years of the Duterte Administration. This year, DA is looking to build 117 units of SPIS.

He also mentioned that 80,000 ha is needed to be irrigated to meet the national food requirement to feed the growing population of Filipinos.

The agriculture secretary encouraged the contractors to take part and invest in the SPIS. He also urged them to deliver good quality products for the benefit of the farmers.

During the discussion, concern was raised regarding New People Army (NPA) demanding revolutionary tax in some areas.

Sec. Piñol responded that a special team will be created to coordinate with the local government units and talk to the NPA to let them know that these projects are for the benefit of Filipino people.

Likewise, it was also raised that many contractors were not able to participate in the bidding for SPIS projects last May 22 due to the need for Agricultural Machinery Testing and Evaluation Center (AMTEC) certification.

The Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) OIC Director, Engr. Cristy Polido, clarified that since SPIS is a pilot and research-based technology, these are exempted from AMTEC testing, as per DA’s Department Circular.

Sec. Piñol proposed the creation of group that will meet regularly to discuss the solar-powered and other renewable irrigation systems. – LC