Marcos leads inauguration of Philippines’ largest solar-powered pump irrigation system

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos inaugurated yesterday the country’s biggest solar-powered pump irrigation project that is seen to boost agricultural production.

The P65.7-million Cabaruan Solar-Powered Pump Irrigation Project (SPIP) in Quirino, Isabela is expected to irrigate 350 hectares of rice field, benefitting 237 farmers.

“We get free electricity from the sun so we can provide free irrigation,” Marcos said in his speech.

“Since I assumed office, I have said we have to fix the agriculture sector and we all know that the most important aspect in improving our farmers’ yield is irrigation,” he said. Marcos served as agriculture secretary at the start of his presidency.

The President said the Cabaruan SPIP was the first to be constructed over an irrigation canal, relieving farmers of the requirement of donating a portion of their property.

He said excess power generated by the solar panels could also be sold to the national grid.

“When you have a solar plant, you have a power plant and you don’t use all the power… we put it in the grid… we have additional income,” Marcos said.

The SPIP allows farmer-beneficiaries to decrease their electricity or fuel expenses by minimizing the use of electric or fuel-powered pumps, and increase agricultural production with the ample supply of water coming from it.

The Cabaruan SPIP is a project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) under the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (MARIIS). It is the biggest SPIP nationwide in terms of the number of solar panels at 1,056.

Constructed from July 6, 2023 to February this year, the system can produce 739,200 watts of power for its two submersible pumps, with each pump capable of discharging 12,800 gallons per minute.

According to the Chief Executive, 152 solar-powered pump irrigation projects are being constructed, with 118 projects to be put up by the government.

So far, 82 solar-powered pump irrigation projects were completed last year, Marcos said.

Isabela is the biggest corn producer and the second biggest contributor to palay production in the country.

In February, Marcos said the government would undertake a nationwide solar-powered irrigation program to help achieve its goal of rice self-sufficiency.

The Department of Agriculture has allotted P17 billion for the Philippine Solar-Irrigation Project and P1.2 billion for the construction and improvement of small-scale irrigation projects, the Presidential Communications Office said in a previous statement.

In his speech yesterday, Marcos said he told NIA administrator Eduardo Guillen to also consider using solar panels for Magat Dam.

The dam was built in 1975 during the term of Marcos’ late father and namesake.

“Let’s also install this kind of solar if it’s suitable so that we can modernize all the facilities (of Magat Dam),” Marcos said.

Magat Dam is a major source of irrigation for 85,000 hectares of farmland in Cagayan Valley region.

It also generates 540 megawatts of hydroelectric power.

However, the government said the dam is threatened by continuous siltation, sedimentation, slash-and-burn farming, illegal logging and fish caging.

Leave a Reply