By Christine Cudis
MANILA — In a bid to strengthen the agriculture industry and support farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) closed a deal with the Israeli government for a PHP 44-billion loan to complete the proposed solar power plant project.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz on Tuesday signed the Implementing Agreement (IA) on Agricultural Cooperation at the DA Central Office in Quezon City.
The IA on Agricultural Cooperation is the final output of a series of negotiations between Israel and Philippines which started during the visit of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to Israel in 2018.
“The banner program under the agreement is the transfer of technology, funding, and establishment of solar-powered irrigation systems all over the country funded by a long-term loan of PHP44-B being offered by the Israeli government,” Piñol said in his statement posted on Facebook Wednesday.
The project will involve the establishment of 6,200 units of computerized Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) intended to irrigate 500,000 hectares of rice farms and other high-value agricultural products over the next three years.
SPIS units will be interconnected with a computer program which would allow the DA Central Office to monitor the performance of each system all over the country.
“The Israeli government is currently completing the installation of two prototypes of the SPIS — one for a small farm set up of up to five hectares and the other for a big farm set up of up to 100 hectares,” the agriculture secretary added.
The prototypes are a donation from an Israeli company, which is also one of those interested in undertaking the SPIS projects in the Philippines.
The prototypes are expected to be operational by the end of July.
Israel Ambassador Harpaz, in an interview with Philippine News Agency, added that the agreement also includes that of MASHAV– the agency that offers international workshops and courses.
“Israel has been sharing knowledge and skills for many years in various areas such as agriculture, water management, and innovation through MASHAV, and we are looking forward to deepening our cooperation with the Philippines in the nearby future,” Harpaz explained during the interview.
He added that the signed agreement reflects the good bilateral relations between our two countries.
Israel considers the Philippines as one of its closest friends in the region because it was the only country in Asia which gave refuge to Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe during World War II.
The Philippines also voted for the creation of an independent state of Israel. (PNA)