Lacson eyes more solar-powered irrigation systems for farmers

(File photo)

MANILA – Should he win in the May 9 polls, Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Tuesday said Filipino farmers can expect a wider state-funded program that would install solar-powered irrigation systems (SPIS) on their paddy fields and plantations.

The presidential aspirant revealed this plan in a dialogue with farm leaders and agricultural workers in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija last February 20 where he and running mate Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III were asked how they intend to address their problems on irrigation.

Lacson attested to the benefits of SPIS because he already tried and tested the technology himself in his small two-hectare farm in Imus, Cavite where he grows crops like tomatoes, calamansi (Philippine lemon), and lettuce as his pastime.

Naglagay po ako ng solar (powered water pump) kasi maganda ‘yung pump e. Maganda ‘yung tubig sa ilalim. Ang problema kuryente. So, naglagay po ako ng solar panel, konti lang -- siguro mga 12 panels yata ‘yon -- ang halaga parang PHP650,000 (I put a solar (powered water pump) because the pump was good, you know. There was a good water supply underneath. The problem was electricity. So, I placed solar panels, about 12 panels, which cost around PHP650,000)," he added.

When the village chief who has jurisdiction over his farm found out about it, Lacson said he immediately got interested in the possibility of expanding it across their neighborhood, which then gave the lawmaker the idea of adding it to his overall campaign agenda for the benefit of small-scale farmers.

As far as Lacson is concerned, the government already has a similar program under the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

He was also told by senatorial aspirant Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been developing and implementing its own SPIS projects.

Maganda po ‘yun. Kasi kung hindi natin talaga kayang tugunan na magtayo ng mga dam para sa irigasyon, magandang substitute ‘yun, ‘yung solar power irrigation (That is a good alternative. Because if we really cannot afford to build dams for the irrigation of lands then this is the best substitute -- solar-powered irrigation)," Lacson said.

He also expressed confidence that he would be able to deliver on this commitment because he could rely on the support of his potential partners in the private sector like Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation who, he said, was equally enthusiastic about the technology.

Iba naman ‘yung kanyang (Ang) vision. Sabi niya, 'ang dami nating lakes, ang dami nating ilog… Pwede tayong kumuha ng tubig' -- ano lang ‘yan, technology lang ‘yan -- na kung saan pwede nating gamitin sa irigasyon (He (Ang) has a slightly different vision. He said 'we have a lot of lakes, we have so many rivers… we can source water from there' -- it’s just, you know, a matter of applying the right technology so we can use it for irrigation)," Lacson added.

These creative ways, he said, are among efforts for the country to be able to address its agriculture problems.

"We should not be import-driven. Perhaps we can become more export-oriented," he added.

Helping small businesses

Lacson, meanwhile, vowed to implement comprehensive and targeted financial packages for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) while complementing the efforts of the private sector.

He said MSMEs account for at least 99.5 percent of enterprises in the country and 63.2 percent of the labor force.

He said some private companies such as the SM Group give additional loans to their suppliers, many of which are MSMEs. These loans allow them to restructure and recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

On the part of the government, Lacson noted there are government financial institutions that are in a good position to help the MSMEs.

"Maraming pamamaraan, pero dapat ang gobyerno doon mag-i-intervene positively (There are so many ways to help. But the government should intervene in a positive manner)," he said.

Meanwhile, Lacson and Sotto said contractors and proponents of road projects that degrade easily should be held accountable and penalized, as billions of pesos in Filipino taxpayers’ funds were wasted on preventive maintenance expenses for roads that are hindering transportation and commerce across the country.

Dapat habulin. Kasi gastos tayo nang gastos tapos sira kaagad. Tapos sa susunod na taon, ito na naman (budget) appropriation na naman(We should go after them. Because we keep on spending (on these roads) yet they break down easily. Then in the next year, these (same road projects) will go through (congressional) appropriations again)," Lacson said.

The presidential aspirant noted that road maintenance expenses nationwide often cost billions of pesos, when in fact roads were supposed to be designed to last for a long time.

The Lacson-Sotto tandem is running on a platform to fix societal ills and improve the delivery of services through eradicating corruption in government. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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