By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Mindanao’s model solar-powered irrigation and waterworks systems are set for opening within this month in Taraka, Lanao del Sur to optimize agricultural land cultivation and provide constituent villages ample potable water supply.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Manny Piñol announced the good news last week, expressing anew his hope for other internal revenue allotment (IRA)-reliant towns in the south, especially in the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
“A little over a year after (we) launched the MinDAWater Supply Program to help local government units in outing up irrigation and drinking water systems, the town of Taraka, Lanao del Sur is ready to open the gate valves of six units of Solar-Powered Irrigation System (this month),” Sec. Piñol said in one of his recent Facebook posts.
Taraka is the first town in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to have enrolled in the Mindanao Water Supply Program (MWSP) launched on Dec. 6, 2019 in Daao City. Mayor Nashiba Sumagayan and her husband-Vice Mayor Odin Sumagayan attended the launch event and asked Sec. Pinol to include Taraka.
On June 20, 2020, Mayor Sumagayan signed a memorandum of agreement with Sec. Piñol and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) president Emmanuel Herbosa. The agreement prescribed for DBP, a MinDA partner entity in many development projects, to grant P218-million in loan to bankroll Taraka’s building of six power irrigation systems (SPIS) units, a solar-powered potable water supply system, and purchase of needed heavy equipment.
In time with simultaneous celebrations of the 2nd BARMM founding anniversary last January 21, the Sumagayans alongside Piñol and Herbosa broke the ground and kicked off the construction of six SPIS units and a water supply project, and have since closely supervised workers in constructing the structures.
The construction works have been completed and host officials have invited higher officials in BARMM, MinDA and DBP to the inaugural operations of the model solar-powered irrigation and waterworks projects this month.
Sec. Piñol said the six SPIS units will generate water from the huge Taraka River to irrigate about 600 hectares of rice farms, foster resident farmers’ rice planting at least four times in a year, and thereby increase local income that may “end the host town’s perennial dependence to (IRA )internal revenue allotment) for existence.”
On the other hand, the water supply project will tap water from nearby Lake Lanao in generating substantial potable or drinking water for all Taraka residents, according to a MinDA team, which earlier lamented the residents’ risky practice for decades of drinking untreated water from the Taraka River.
Before and during the projects’ constructions, MinDA technical people assisted host people in crafting Taraka town’s agriculture master plan, conducted capability building training and financial literacy, and helped organize the town’s Economic Enterprise Office which will manage the projects, Piñol said.
Among the designed life-enhancing supplementary ventures in Taraka were goat raising, egg production and duck management, it was learned.
Piñol hailed Taraka for becoming the model or first town in Mindanao and BARMM to enroll in the Mindanao Water Supply Program, which he envisioned to establish water supply systems in remote southern towns and villages for both irrigation and household use.
The program promotes self-reliance among LGUs with MinDA crafting the program and blueprint of development, DBP the funding and DILG the administrative support, said Pinol, who earlier announced that BARMM’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform had committed to provide technical and fund supports.
Mayor Sumagayan, a former university professor who took over from her husband, lawyer Odin, a former three-term mayor and now the vice mayor, has earlier described the solar-powered irrigation and water supply projects as a “dream come true” in their town.
For Sec. Pinol, “Taraka now shines as a model of a self-reliant town in the Bangsamoro Region.” AGM