Solar irrigation project to be pitched to ADB for financing

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday that it will seek a 350-million-euro loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support its solar-powered irrigation projects.

“We have a proposal with the ADB, that’s about 350 million euros to develop solar irrigation. This is a very inexpensive way of irrigating,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Arnel V. de Mesa said in a forum.

He added that the proposed loan, once approved, will be disbursed over three years.

The Philippine Solar Irrigation Project aims to add about 180,000 hectares of irrigable farmland.

The DA estimates that there are about 1.02 million hectares of land that can be irrigated but are still relying on rainwater. 

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has said that he was seeking to set up 152 solar-powered irrigation pumps this year, through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

As of 2023, the NIA has completed 68% of its national irrigation development commitments, servicing an estimated 2.11 million hectares.

“Aside from being inexpensive, solar systems are very reliable,” he added.

He said that small-scale projects typically take eight to 10 days to construct, to irrigate about eight to 10 hectares, while large-scale projects typically take a few years.

He added that the loan proposal has been approved at the technical level by the Investment Coordination Committee. It requires approval by the ICC Cabinet Committee before being endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority Board.

Mr. De Mesa said that the DA is seeking P22 billion from the Department of Budget and Management this year to fund the construction of solar infrastructure.

He added that the P11 billion will fund solar irrigation pumps, while the remainder will go to solar-powered cold storage facilities.

“It will be distributed to areas where we have production, especially for fruits, vegetables, the fishing sector and other coastal communities. It can also be used for livestock,” he said, referring to the cold storage facilities. — Adrian H. Halili