The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will construct a solar-powered irrigation facility with the use water pumps in Sofronio Española starting next year in a bid to maximize water resources and increase rice production in Palawan.
NIA-Palawan Irrigation Management Office Division Manager Engr. Conrado V. Cardenas, Jr. said that they have piloted the project in Barangay Isumbo in Sofronio Española.
The NIA-PIMO said that 10 solar-powered water pumps will be installed in Brgy. Isumbo. These are deep wells that will be operated through solar energy and the water irrigate the nearby ricefields, therefore sustaining improved rice production due to sufficient irrigation.
The NIA allocated P386 million intended for 26 priority irrigation projects in Palawan for 2020, including the solar powered irrigation.
Each water pump is worth P3.3 million and can support the irrigation of at least 10 hectares of ricefield.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) through its office in Palawan Agricultural Experimentation Station (PAES) said that it also has an ongoing solar-powered irrigation project in Taytay town.
During the incumbency of former Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, he inaugurated and turned over several solar-powered irrigation projects in different parts of the country.
In Puerto Princesa City has only 2,403 irrigable rice land, which 814 hectares of which has irrigation facilities of the NIA. The biggest is that in Iwahig with 414 hectares, Inagawan at 240 hectares, Lucbuan has 100 hectares irrigated rice land, and Tagburos has only 60 hectares.
In Sofronio Española which is the pilot area for the solar-powered irrigation has a total of 2,677 hectares of irrigable area while its rice land serviced by the irrigation facilities is only 448 hectares.
The largest track of rice land in Palawan is located in Narra town, in the southern part of the province. Narra is considered as Palawan’s rice granary since the biggest bulk of the rice production came from this municipality. It has a total of 15,000 irrigable rice land while only 7,515 is currently served through the NIA’s irrigation facilities.
An ongoing irrigation project in Narra, Palawan funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will benefit substantial number of rice farmers after the NIA developed some 3,471 hectares of riceland through the NISRIP and this will maximize irrigation in the province’s rice granary.
Daryle Cayao Camara, information officer of NIA-PIMO, said the Malatgao River Irrigation System (RIS) is already 98.15 percent completed and is expected to be inaugurated and turned over this year.
The NIA said that it already expanded its services to 35,000 hectares of rice land in the entire Palawan, which is 44 percent of the total irrigable area in the province.