Agos Para sa Masaganang Ani - Photo:Yara Philippines
Amb. Christian Lyster (5th from L) and William Jensen, Second Secretary (2nd from R), Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila, Michael Ardieta, Country Manager (4th from L), & Toby Goodroad, VP for New Business (3rd from R), Yara, with beneficiaries from Sta. Cruz Farmers Association. Yara Philippines

Norwegian Embassy taps crop solutions specialist for the installation of solar-powered water pumps in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro

Renewable energy-powered pumps to ensure sustainability, better rice yields for farmers

| Calapan, Mindoro

A farming community in Calapan Oriental Mindoro, is now enjoying a worry-free future in terms of rice productivity and sustainability with the turn-over of the solar-powered water pump project providing much-needed irrigation in Barangay Santa Cruz this year.

Dubbed “Agos para sa Masaganang Ani,” this solar-powered water pump project is being undertaken by sustainable crop nutrition solutions specialist Yara Fertilizers Philippines, Inc. (Yara), in cooperation with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Its goal is to bring down the cost of irrigation in the barangay, which currently uses traditional water pumps running on diesel fuel. The project would result in better profitability and secured yields for the farmers plus reduced CO2 emissions as the pumps will no longer rely heavily on diesel fuel to draw in water and irrigate the land.


Improving livelihood, securing the planet

During the formal inauguration of the project earlier this month, Ambassador Christian Halaas Lyster shared that the government of Norway has always been supportive of projects that align with its advocacies such as climate change, environmental protection, and food security.

Ambassador Christian Lyster delivers his speech. Also in the photo are Nikki Delfin, Adviser of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila (3rd from R) and and Jayson Familara, HESQ and Product Stewardship Manager of Yara Asia and Africa(rightmost).

“Norway gives priority to increasing food security and transitioning to renewable energy. This project does both at the same time. We hope this pilot project is something that can be scaled across different regions of the Philippines, to ensure increased food production while decreasing the overall carbon footprint”, Ambassador Lyster said.

The embassy has provided a PHP 4-million grant for the project through Yara, which was used to source and install 16 units of solar-powered water pump that would benefit 55 farmers servicing 80 hectares of rice fields. Based on the current configuration, one water pump unit can irrigate up to five hectares of land.


Growing a nature-positive food future

As the 16 units have already been put in place, Yara will continuously engage with the farmers until April this year to monitor and evaluate the irrigation system’s performance as well as its impact on the productivity and profitability of the farmer beneficiaries.

Group photo with Yara and the farmer's group.JPG

Baranggay Sta. Cruz Farmers Association welcomes the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila and Yara Philippines in Sitio Gemelina. Also in photo are Nikki Delfin, Adviser of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila (rightmost in black).


Michael Ardieta, Country Manager of Yara Fertilizers Philippines Inc., explained how the idea of installing solar-powered water pumps came about. “It’s always been Yara’s ambition to grow a nature-positive food future. Under that ambition is climate neutrality, regenerative agriculture, and prosperity. So, for this project, instead of using 100% diesel, “para mabawasan yung emissions, naisip naming gamitin ang araw or solar power. Malaking bagay yun sa aspeto ng climate change,” (solar power can reduce carbon emissions). This can contribute to (combat) climate change.

For regenerative agriculture, Yara is here to provide crop nutrition solutions as part of proper farming management like planting at the right time, putting the right amount and type of fertilizers, plus of course, the availability of water source,” he explained. 

According to Ardieta, the most important theme for the project is prosperity.

“When we say prosperity, what we want is for the farmers to benefit. Ang gusto natin tumaas din ang kita nila (We want to improve their livelihood). Kung mababawasan ang cost of production nila  (We reduce the cost of their production) by using less diesel and relying on solar power instead, then it’d mean additional income for them. That’s basically the main rationale for this project and we are grateful to the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila for entrusting us with this project,” he added.

Farmer beneficiaries see cost-savings, increased rice yields

During the acceptance ceremony that followed after the project’s inauguration, members of the farming community in Barangay Sta. Cruz shared their sentiments.

Homonobo Antenor and Rolly Crisologo

According to Homonobo Antenor (in photo), president of Barangay Sta. Cruz Farmers Association in Calapan, the project is a very big help to them. “Unang-una po sa libreng patubig na ibinibigay nito, makakatipid na kami sa pagbili ng krudo. (First and foremost, [solar] irrigation can cut the cost from diesel expense. Kung solar power na po ang gamit namin, maibabawas na namin ang halaga ng pagbili ng diesel sa aming mga gastusin sa araw-araw (We can take home additional savings from our everyday fuel expensese).

Crisologo Mendoza, the very first beneficiary of a solar-powered water pump in the area, also chimed in, saying, “Malaking tulong po ito sa aming mga magsasaka. Tataas po ang antas ng aming ani pati na rin ang antas ng aming kita, at bababa din po ang gastusin namin sa pagtatanim ng palay” (This could be a big help to our famers, improve our yields, and reduce the cost in farming rice).


Another project beneficiary, Susan Mendoza (in photo holding the ribbon), expressed hope that the solar-powered water pump can help her recover from a dismal yield last planting season. “Nitong nakaraang anihan, kami po ay nakapag-ani lang ng anim na kaban ng palay sa 3/4 hektarya. Hindi po namin kinaya ang gastusin para ma-suplayan ng tubig ang aming palayan,” she lamented (We have only yielded ¾ of a hectar last harvest season. We fell short to supply our farm with irrigation).

During a courtesy call to Calapan City Mayor Marilou Morillo in her office, Ambassador Lyster shared that the Norwegian Embassy has always been supportive of the government’s renewable energy plans and that it has always looked for projects that can be upscaled or replicated.  

“If our partnership with Yara for this project is successful, then we have a sustainable model that can be replicated and upscaled,” he said.

Amb. Lyster at the courtesy call to Calapan City Mayor Morillo.jpg

For her part, Mayor Morillo (in photo) thanked the ambassador and his team for their support to Calapan City, saying, “I’m so happy that Yara Philippines together with the Norwegian Embassy has helped our people a lot. As you can see, Calapan is more of an agricultural city and we really need these types of projects. I hope that this endeavor could serve as an opening for more cooperation between us. Thank you for visiting us here in Calapan, and helping our people.”