Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the Agriculture Department will be installing 6,200 solar-powered irrigation systems nationwide as a short-term solution to address the effect of El Niño which has caused farm lands to dry up.

“This is our short-term resolution for El Niño, to build a solar-powered irrigation system. The project has a fund of P4 billion,” Piñol said.

“The project has a fund of P4 billion.”

“The solar panels will produce the energy needed for the irrigation to be functional. This will be very effective during dry season,” the agriculture chief added.

Piñol explained that constructing water impounding dams is a long-term solution that will take several months if not years to finish.

Earlier, he said they will be pushing for a bill that will require all communities to implement water conservation and preservation programs such as having small water impounding and small water catchment basins.

“We will do our best for this bill to be included in the President’s legislative agenda,” Piñol said.

“We will do our best for this bill to be included in the President’s legislative agenda.”

He said the country experiences an average of 22 typhoons that hit the country every year, which must be taken with a positive note – coming up with measures to collect rain water for future use.

“The bill, once it is signed into a law will urge the public to conserve and utilize water resources and can be put in good use during dry season,” Piñol said.

He said this is the way to go because the country needs to implement sustainable agriculture.

“There will be a time that our resources will not be able to feed the population in the manner we produce food right now and we do not want that happen,” Piñol added.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations, Ariel Cayanan, meanwhile, urged the farmers not to plant crops that require much water to grow, saying the department is looking for seeds which are pest and disease-resistant.

Cayanan said all of the crop pest management personnel of the Bureau of Plant Industry are on full alert in their monitoring of pests and infestation.

The agriculture official said the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation will also be providing loans for farmers to ensure that there will still be a recovery fund for them should their crops be severely affected by the dry spell.

“Since we have the Program Loan Easy Access, the financial assistance and needs of the farmers will be well provided,” Piñol said.

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