Government eyes more private partners for irrigation

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture is eyeing more partnerships with the private sector particularly on the construction of irrigation systems to cover the needed one million hectares in the country.

Newly-appointed Agriculture chief William Dar cited the need to elevate investments for the national irrigation system.

“We should be looking at opportunities to open this to the private sector under a build-operate-transfer scheme,” Dar said in a weekly forum Wednesday.

“We will start the process this year, hoping this will eventually be put into action,” he said.

Dar is proposing a Build Build Build mechanism to accelerate the development of the national Irrigation system.

“We will discuss this with NIA, we will partner with them because they have the responsibility to develop our irrigation and they are not attached to us,” Dar said.

“We have to consider that there is the private sector, why not (tap them) so government can redirect its investments for other priorities,” he said.

Dar is supporting the solar powered irrigation system that was started by former agri chief Emmanuel Piñol.

“The concept is good and we want to strengthen that with the involvement of the private sector. Due diligence must be done properly, our bottomline is the water source, it should be available the whole months of the year,” he said.

Since DA started the SPIS in March 2017, it has provided funding for 169 units of SPIS nationwide.

The SPIS, one of DA’s flagship programs, aims to ensure sufficient rice supply in the coming years and could even result in surplus production in the country.

It used to be part of the 10-point priority agenda which aims to increase rice production by providing the water needed by farmers to irrigate their farms and enable them to plant and harvest at least twice a year.

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