THE MUNICIPALITY of Taraka will be the first to avail of a loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) under the Mindanao Water Program, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol announced Monday. The P100-million loan, scheduled for signing on March 21, is “for the construction of six solar-powered irrigation systems and a potable water supply system,” Mr. Piñol said on his social media page. He said at least five other local government units “are now in the process of enrolling in the program.” The Mindanao Water Program, launched Dec. 6 last year, is a joint project of MinDa, DBP and the Department of Interior and Local Government. It is intended to bring safe drinking water supply to households and irrigation system to farms. “The program is based on LGU (local government unit) self-reliance and is designed to be economically viable through an Economic Enterprise Concept where fees are collected from the beneficiaries to pay off the loans,” The MinDA chair said. The irrigation systems in Taraka are expected to increase rice production in currently rain-fed farms. “With the solar-irrigation systems, farmers hope to plant twice a year at least and increase their yield from 3 metric tons once a year to 6 metric tons per harvest per hectare or 12 metric tons in one year.” Taraka, considered an important Maranao historical and cultural preservation area, has been chosen as showcase site for a MinDA-initiated agriculture-based poverty reduction program.