This is just one of the benefits the solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) will bring to the farmers of Purok 8 and Purok 1C in Barangay Poblacion, Montevista, Compostela Valley Province.

The first SPIS installed in Davao Region are funded under the Rice Program of the Department of Agriculture - Region XI (DA-XI) with a total cost of P5.9-million for each site.

DA-XI Regional Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr. and Montevista Mayor Eutropio S. Jayectin lead the turnover ceremony on August 9 (Friday) to two farmers associations namely: Greenfields Farmers Association and San Jose Farmers Association of the town's Purok 8 and Purok 1C respectively.

The Purok 1C SPIS will cover at least 111 hectares of rice fields while the Purok 8 SPIS will cover at another 55 hectares. Using the maximum rice water requirement these SPIS can cover 10-12 hectares per day.

"The solar-powered irrigation system will help us reduce production cost as we will no longer use diesel fuel to irrigate our rice fields especially during the dry season," said San Jose Farmers Association president Alex Sodevilla.

Mayor Jayectin urges farmers to observe proper operation and maintenance of the solar-powered irrigation system and commended DA-XI for installing the said facility in his town considering that it entailed huge investment.

DA-XI Regional Director Ricardo Oñate for his part said the use of relevant and innovative technologies such as the solar-powered irrigation system is one of the interventions that can help rice farmers compete amid rice trade liberalization.

"Aside from helping farmers increase their yield, we are also looking into how they can reduce production cost. The solar-powered irrigation system is one of those as it eliminates the use of petroleum-based energy," he said.

The DA under the leadership of its newly appointed Secretary William D. Dar seeks to collectively empower farmers to increase its productivity and profitability.

Secretary Dar in a press briefing introduces "new thinking" in agriculture of which infrastructure development is considered critical and more SPIS should be built all over the country to level up farm production. 

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