By Philippine News Agency
ILOILO CITY — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced Wednesday the reduction of buffer seeds for calamities, which annually eats up some PHP1.4 billion of the department’s budget.
Piñol, who was in Iloilo for his regular “Byaheng Bukid”, said that not all provinces are being hit by calamities, particularly by a typhoon. So what happens is that the buffer seeds when not utilized will be milled and were just given away.
“I am amending this,” he said adding that he will meet with directors and instruct them to identify areas vulnerable to disasters and calamities. It is only in these areas where buffer stocking will be done.
Also, there will only be three regions; one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that will host the buffer stocks.
“Not everybody would be hit by the typhoon,” he stressed as he estimated that the department could save around PHP1 billion with the initiative.
The savings will be used to acquire solar-powered irrigation system and Iloilo will be one of the beneficiaries.
“You need a lot of that,” he said.
The secretary, in pushing for the solar-powered irrigation system, said that the construction of big dams such as the proposed Jalaur (River Multipurpose Project) “is no longer the mode”. The modern method to irrigate farmlands is through small water impounding, solar powered irrigation and windmill, among others.
He said that these are less costly and can be constructed in a shorter period of time. He mentioned as example the irrigation project in Cotabato and in Central Luzon that was completed in 60 days or 90 days the most.
A diesel-fueled irrigation system in Llanera, Nueva Ecija was also changed to a solar-powered irrigation system because farmers were complaining against the high cost of diesel, he said.
“Next year I will try to allocate funds for about 200 units of these. For now I am looking for fund so we can complete this program. I am targeting 500,000 hectares for the solar-powered irrigation system,” he added.
Meanwhile, during the visit, the secretary also led the distribution of some PHP25.24 million worth of farm machineries and equipment to farmers associations and cooperatives in Western Visayas at the Western Visayas Agricultural Research Center in Hamungaya, Jaro, this city.
The machineries and equipment included flatbed dryers, mobile dyers, reaper harvester, recirculating dryers, thresher, cultivator, pump and engines and hand tractors.