THE National Irrigation Authority (NIA) said it has prepared a list of 50 projects that may be opened up to public-private partnerships (PPPs), including hydropower and floating solar power facilities.

In a statement over the weekend, NIA said: “At present, NIA has 50 potential irrigation projects for PPP nationwide (including) major or big-ticket multipurpose projects with hydropower component that can have potential floating solar power farms, and small river irrigation projects (SRIPs) or medium-sized dams with reservoirs that have the potential (to host) floating solar power farms and/or mini-hydro power plants,” the NIA said.

With power generation, irrigation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation infrastructure projects eligible for PPPs, “NIA sees partnership with the private sector (as) an opportunity to gain improved efficiency and project implementation processes in delivering services to the public, especially our farmers.”

According to the NIA, some of the potential major multipurpose projects for PPP include the Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project (hydropower component) in Tarlac; the Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte-Abra Irrigation Project in Region 1; the Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project in Capiz, the Ilaguen Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project in Isabela; and the Balintingon Multipurpose Project in Nueva Ecija.

“Irrigation development in the Philippines is very slow at 2% of the potential irrigable area of about 1.3 million hectares annually due to lack of budgetary support to fast-track implementation of big-ticket multi-purpose projects; slow phase of project preparation due to failure of local consultants to deliver necessary outputs like feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs; and conversion of developed irrigated areas to other land uses like residential, industrial and other purposes,” the NIA said.   

“With PPP’s focus on reduced costs, better risk allocation, faster implementation, improved services and possible generation of additional revenue, the NIA top management officials calls on the private sector (to make) much-needed investments in Philippine agriculture,” the NIA said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave