DA expects to seal P44-B loan with Israeli firm

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects to sign this week a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with an Israeli firm for the loan worth P44 billion, which will be used by the agency to build thousands of solar-powered irrigation systems (SPIS) units across different parts of the country.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced last month that Innovative Agro Industry Ltd. (IAI), an affiliate of LR Group, a leading project development company in Israel, has made the loan offer. The Israeli firm has sought for an MOU with DA to finalize the loan offer and finally push through with the project.

"Israel wants to sign an MOU with us for the SPIS. During the high level cabinet meeting on water, when I presented the recommendations , they agreed that solar irrigation is the way to do," Piñol said.

But Piñol said the SPIS proposal will be presented first to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) this week after the cabinet meeting.
"The President has given the go signal. It will still go through Swiss Challenge if there are other proposals," he added.

To be specific, IAI will provide technology as well as funding to his agency that should be enough to build as much as 8,000 units of SPIS.

To build this much SPIS, funding worth P44 billion is needed, something that the Israeli firm could provide, IAI Chairman and Executive Director Ilan Weiss earlier told Piñol.

The DA chief said the loan will be payable in 10 years with two-year grace period.

IAI has already agreed to collaborate with Gentromech Engineering Company, the firm that won the government contract to manufacture SPIS, in terms of designing the new SPIS, which will now utilize Israeli technology and design.