The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is making significant strides in its commitment to harness renewable energy for irrigation projects across the Philippines. With Acting Administrator Engr. Eddie G. Guillen at the helm, NIA is actively pursuing the development of solar-powered irrigation projects in 183 sites scheduled for completion by 2024. Additionally, the agency is proposing an additional 791 potential sites to irrigate approximately 39,694 hectares of agricultural land nationwide.
In the current year, 147 potential irrigation sites for solar power have been identified, with a budget of Php 1,643,583,002 allocated. As of September 15, 2023, NIA has already completed the construction of 17 solar-powered irrigation projects, amounting to Php 117,360,002. These projects provide reliable irrigation water supply to 830 hectares of agricultural land, benefiting 801 farmers and their families.
NIA’s modernization and innovation efforts extend beyond traditional irrigation services. The agency is leveraging its irrigation facilities, dams, and reservoirs for agro-tourism, aquaculture, and renewable energy sources. This multifaceted approach demonstrates NIA’s commitment to contributing holistically to the country’s development.
In addition to incorporating hydropower in larger irrigation projects through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), NIA is tapping into the potential benefits of other renewable energy sources, with a particular focus on solar energy due to its accessibility and economic viability.
These solar-powered irrigation projects aim to replace costly diesel pumps, alleviating the financial burden on Filipino farmers. With rising fuel prices, these initiatives allow farmers to irrigate their lands without the high costs associated with fuel-powered pumps. The technology comprises solar panels, pumps, electronic pump controllers, storage tanks, and conveyor systems, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional fuel-powered irrigation.
One successful example of NIA’s solar-powered irrigation projects is the BUSPAN Solar Pump Irrigation System in Malamig, Bustos, Bulacan, serving 350 hectares and 320 farmer-beneficiaries. The ANBUSPA Solar Pump Irrigation System in Tibagan, Bustos, Bulacan, irrigates 1,200 hectares and benefits 1,000 farmers. These projects are the result of the successful replication of the Kapatiran Solar Pump Irrigation System in Sampaloc, San Rafael, Bulacan, which was the pilot solar project led by NIA Region III under the guidance of Regional Manager Engr. Josephine B. Salazar. The system, featuring 115 solar panels with a 60 kwp capacity installed atop an irrigation canal, provides irrigation water supply to 150 hectares of agricultural land in San Rafael, Bulacan, benefiting 114 farmers while significantly reducing annual electrical expenses.
In the CALABARZON Region, the Talaongan Pump Irrigation Project benefits 44 farmers in the Municipality of Cavinti, Laguna, providing irrigation water supply to 50 hectares of agricultural land in Barangay Silangan, Talaongan. Meanwhile, in Barangay Pag-asa, Mabitac, Laguna, the Masikap Solar Pump Irrigation Project irrigates 13 hectares of farmland, benefiting 33 farmers of Masikap-Canaw Farmers Irrigators, Inc.
Looking ahead to 2024, NIA has allocated Php 1,720,984,000 for solar irrigation projects in 183 sites across the country, which will irrigate an additional 2,168 hectares of land. An ambitious proposal for solar-powered irrigation projects worth Php 30 billion is on the table, aiming to provide irrigation water supply to 39,694 hectares nationwide. These initiatives align with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s top priority of ensuring food security through improved rice production in the country.
As NIA remains steadfast in its mission to provide efficient, reliable, and sustainable irrigation services to Filipino farmers, the agency continues to embrace renewable energy through the development of solar, floating solar, and hydroelectric power projects on existing and future irrigation systems.