Israeli firm eyed for financing of agri flagship project
An Israeli company is willing to provide as much as P44 billion in funds to the Department of Agriculture to finance one of its flagship programs over the next three years, as a result of President Duterte’s state visit to the Jewish state last year.
On the sidelines of the Israel agro-business delegation event yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the LR Group, an international financing and construction company, expressed interest in funding the agency’s solar-powered irrigation project, which was aimed at increasing the country’s rice self-sufficiency rate over the next few years.
“Under the proposal, LR will be working with the Israeli and Philippine government and other sources of possible financing for the project… If we have this scheme, our irrigation projects may be completed in two years. Our need is immediate and we’re threshing out details as we go along,” he said.
The secretary earlier said this amount of investment “could fund the construction of about 6,200 units of solar-powered irrigation systems (SIPS)” that could irrigate half a million hectares of farm lands.
The system is not limited to helping the rice industry alone, but could also be used in cultivating high-value crops.
Piñol said the additional funding would also help the department hit its target of increasing the country’s rice self-sufficiency rate to 97 percent.
Since 2017, the agency has been planning to put up solar power systems in areas that do not have irrigation systems. These irrigation systems have a capacity to pump 400 to 1,000 gallons of water a day for up to 150 ha of rice farm.
Currently, a total of 169 SPIS have been constructed all over the country.
Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Itamar Gero said another partnership project between the two countries would involve the establishment of pilot farms in Negros, Saranggani province and North Cotabato to test the efficiency of drip irrigation—a technology being used by another Israeli company Netafim, which had been operating in the country for years.