Farmers seek review of irrigation project in Cotabato, S. Kudarat

Published March 27, 2019, 7:40 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Keith Bacongco

BAGUMBAYAN, Sultan Ku­darat – A multi-million peso irrigation project that was supposed to address the scar­city of water supply in rice farms during the dry season may have failed to serve its purpose in three project areas.

HELPLESS – Village councilor Rogelio Quintero shows a broken part of the P8-million Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) in Barangay New Janiuay in Mlang, Cotabato which has not been working and has been unable to help farmers during this dry spell. (Keith Bacongco / MANILA BULLETIN)
HELPLESS – Village councilor Rogelio Quintero shows a broken part of the P8-million Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) in Barangay New Janiuay in Mlang, Cotabato which has not been working and has been unable to help farmers during this dry spell. (Keith Bacongco / MANILA BULLETIN)

Touted as the flagship project of the Department of Agriculture, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol firmly believed that his P19 million worth flagship Solar Power Irrigation System (SPIS) project will ease the irrigation supply problems during long dry spell.

However, officials of the three host villages are now appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte and Piñol to revisit the project and determine what went wrong.

No less than Piñol admitted on his Facebook page on March 17 that the two SPIS units in his home province of Cotabato were not working.

He issued the statement after it was reported that the units have not served the farmers this dry spell.

Piñol confirmed that the SPIS unit in New Janiuay and in Manubuan are not working.

“We expected challenges because this is a new technology,” the DA chief added. “The unit in Manubuan, Mata­lam was used for two cropping seasons until the creek dried up, while the unit in New Janiuay which was a prototype is now undergoing corrective works because it did not operate according to standards.”

Saying that these units were not use­less, Piñol said that “drilling operations are now being done in one of these units to establish a new water source.”

He further claimed that “water is ex­pected to flow again within a month.”

The SPIS unit in Barangay Biwang of this town, according to village of­ficials, was reportedly tested but was never used since it was completed sometime in November last year.

Barangay Biwang Councilor Danilo Casa disclosed that the DA Region 12 has yet to formally turn over the P5-million SPIS unit to the community.

“Wala man kami ma-training kung ano pag operate, nahadlok man kami mag hilabot kay basi maguba. Ka mahal-mahal sina (We were not trained to operate and we are afraid to try it because we might broke that expensive unit),” Casa said in an interview.

Upon completion last November, the contractor performed a “flushing test” to show that the SPIS was working, he added.

Village officials in New Janiuay of Mlang, North Cotabato also lamented that the SPIS unit they received has failed to serve its purpose among 38 farmer-benefi­ciaries as El Niño hit their farmlands.

The officials said that the SPIS has never been used since it was inaugurated by no less than the President himself on February 3, 2017.

Thus, the barangay council has passed a resolution on March 11 urging Duterte to inspect the SPIS unit, said village chief Judy Palmares.

Palmares added that the farmers, who were supposed to benefit from the ­project, have complained why they can­not use the unit especially this dry spell.

“Ginaasahan ni sang mga tao unta nga pag-abot sang El Niño, may patubig sila tani sa ila palayan (The farmers were hoping that the SPIS could irrigate their farms this El Niño),” the village chief lamented.

 
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