Tuesday Jun, 15 2021 04:18:59 AM

“Why are we sleeping on a very important project?”

AGRICULTURE • 16:15 PM Fri May 7, 2021
MinDA chair Sec. Emmanuel Piñol
The Israeli-designed SPIS offered a state-of-the-art computer monitored systems and introduced the Fertigation Technology.

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Over two years ago while we were in an event in Buluan, Maguindanao, I asked the approval of President Rody Duterte to seek Israel's help in implementing the Solar-Powered Irrigation Project which the Dept. of Agriculture proposed to boost the country's rice production.

As expected, Pres. Duterte gave me the green light and I proceeded to engage the Israeli Embassy in Manila and the LR Group, an Israeli agro-industrial company.

By Feb. 2019, the whole package was arranged.

With the help of Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz and his predecessor, Ambassador Ben Matityau, and the Mashav, Israel's Agriculture Agency, a loan fund of P44-B to build SPIS units covering 500,000-hectares was committed by funders.

The Israeli-designed SPIS offered a state-of-the-art computer monitored systems and introduced the Fertigation Technology.

The LR Group proceeded to donate and build two prototypes in Lumban, Laguna which were completed shortly after I resigned as DA Secretary in June 2019.

The units were turned over by the Israelis to the DA in a much publicized event but everything went silent after that until today.

I am raising this issue not because it was I who initiated the project but because by failing to implement this project, we are wasting precious time in the effort to make the country food sufficient.

Also, while the Israelis have not said anything about the delay in the implementation of the project, I believe this is disappointing to a nation which had gone to great lengths to help us.

Tayo na nga ang tinutulungan, tayo pa ang mabagal at parang walang interes.

Israel is not known to grant loans to other countries but in our case, they did it. I attribute this to the deep sense of gratitude that they have for the Philippines for taking in Jewish refugees during World War and for voting for the creation of the State of Israel.

Pres. Duterte has a little over one year left in his Presidency and implementing a project which would irrigate 500,000-hectares could be his greatest legacy to Philippine Agriculture.

Let us not squander this opportunity being offered by the Israelis to boosti Philippine Agriculture.

Besides, we do not know when the next El Niño would hit the country.

Kapag tinamaan na tayo ng El Niño, saka palang tayo gagalaw and we will again point blaming fingers at each other.

When that time comes, I hope people who are sleeping on this critical project will remember that on this day, May 7, 2021, they were fairly warned of the dire consequences of their inaction.


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