By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is open to the proposal of an Israeli firm for an agriculture partnership.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has recently directed DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan to work closely with Tahal Group for possible areas of agricultural collaborations such as dairy farms, greenhouses for vegetable production, and corporate farming particularly using Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS).
Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tahal Group is a leading global provider of sustainable infrastructure development projects in developing countries worldwide. It engages in integrated development projects in the water, wastewater, agriculture, solid waste and natural gas segments, according to its website.
Since its establishment in 1952, Tahal Group has implemented hundreds of projects for governments, municipalities, public organizations and private corporations in over 60 countries worldwide.
During their meeting with Piñol at DA Central Office, the officials of the Israeli firm expressed their interest to explore advancement on agricultural development in the country particularly on aspects of water resources, water and wastewater systems, integrated agriculture development, sustainable solid waste projects, as well as oil and gas infrastructures.
The DA has just recently called embarked on its massive solar irrigation project called SPIS program, which involves the development of solar-powered irrigation systems across different parts of the country.
Piñol earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte promised DA that it will get the money that it needs to undertake the project.
The SPIS program particularly aims to provide water to at least 500,000 hectares of farms over the remaining four years of the current administration.
Currently, only 1.2 million hectares of the estimated 3.9 million hectares of rice farms are served by the irrigation systems under the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
Based on Piñol’s “impromptu” computation, the cost of building SPIS covering 500,000 hectares of land would amount to P43.7 billion.
This, since each SPIS unit, which has a capacity to irrigate 80 hectares, would cost around P7 million to set up. The target is to build 6,250 of this facility.