The solar-powered irrigation system which just started as a wild idea is now gaining national attention after its first prototype successfully worked during a test run last week.
Powered by 50 solar panels, a 10-horsepower Grundfos pump draws water from a small impounding in Barangay New Janiuay, M'lang, pumping out between 600 to 800 gallons of water every minute.
The volume of water would be enough to submerge 3 to 4 hectares every day.
The idea actually came to my mind following the series of travels to the countryside which I made even before I assumed as Secretary of Agriculture.
I saw many potential rice farming areas which did not have access to irrigation systems and were only planting once a year.
In Aparri, Cagayan, however, I saw the greatest irony where wide rice fields were only planting once a year because of the lack of water while beside these areas, the giant Cagayan River continuously flowed to the ocean.
That was when I asked the help of a Fil-Am friend, Rocky French of Coachella Valley, Southern California, who co-owns a Tilapia fishpond in the middle of the desert drawing water from underground using solar-power.
French introduced me to a young Asian-American solar engineer, Moses Khuu, who then started work on the project in September.
The first solar-powered irrigation system which is a joint project of the Department of Agriculture and the Local Government Unit of M'lang is designed to irrigate initially 60 hectares.
The DA will provide the M'lang LGU with a support fund of P8-million to fund the establishment of the prototype and also to set-up a solar-powered fishtanks called the "Cycles of Life" which would allow upland farmers to grow Tilapia or Hito in two 30-feet diameter tanks.
The owner of the piece of land, Antonio Jugos, has agreed to allow the DA and the local government of M'lang to use a part of his property to serve as a learning centre for farmers who would like to know more about solar-powered irrigation system.
Last week, GMA7's Ferdinand Cabrera visited the experiment station and he came up with this report that I am sharing with you.
Next year, the DA plans to establish working models in each region to introduce the technology not only to rice farmers but also to high-value crops producers.
With water made available by solar-technology, I believe the agricultural productivity of the country will greatly increase.
Watch video below.
Sources: GMA NEWS, Manny Pinol Facebook