TWO PROGRAMS that combine agricultural and renewable energy development in off-grid areas of Mindanao were recently launched as part of the rural growth strategy for the southern Philippines.

One project, the Integration of Productive Uses of Renewable Energy for Sustainable and Inclusive Energization in Mindanao (I-PURE Mindanao), will cover 10 pilot areas that are already agriculturally productive but lack power supply to expand.

With 4.5 million euros (P264.91 million) worth of funding from the European Union (EU), I-PURE Mindanao will set up solar-powered facilities to run coffee dryers, ice-making machines, and irrigation systems in communities in the Bangsamoro and Soccsksargen regions.

These communities include: Picong, Lanao del Sur; Sitangkai and Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi;  Kalamansig, Lebak, Bagumbayan, and Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat; Tulunan, Arakan, and Kidapawan City, Cotabato; and Glan, Sarangani.

Ileana Miritescu, program manager for energy of the EU delegation to the Philippines, said the power facility will also provide electricity to households in these communities.

“It will provide electricity to widely dispersed households. It will also increase the quality of life in those areas and bring clear benefits including to women and children. We hope that this will serve as a platform to scale up (in increasing) access to renewable energy solutions in far-flung areas,” Ms. Miritescu said during the Mindanao Power Forum last month.

I-PURE Mindanao is expected to be completed towards the end of 2022.   

Meanwhile, P262 million in EU funds have been allocated for a solar and diesel hybrid power facility for four seaweed farming towns in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines’ southernmost province.

The Renewable Energy for Tawi-Tawi Seaweeds (RETS) Project, with implementation led by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), will benefit some 5,000 households.

UNIDO Regional Director Stein Hansen said the project is expected to increase value-added activities in Tawi-Tawi, one of the country’s top seaweed producers.

“This will serve as a catalyst in terms of increasing economic capacity and increase access in the availability of electricity of off grid areas like Sitangkai (town),” Mr. Hansen said.

The RETS Project is undertaken in partnership with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), local governments, the Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative, Mindanao State University in Tawi-Tawi, Island Light and Water Energy Development Corp. (ILAW), and the Bangsamoro regional government.

“These projects concretize our efforts to help accelerate agricultural growth while promoting renewable energy deployment in Mindanao,” said MinDA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol. — Maya M. Padillo