THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said a prototype floating solar farm funded by the fisheries bureau will be built in Tawi-Tawi Province’s Sibutu Island.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a social media post that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will provide P20 million for the project in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group’s power unit. It is expected to be completed in four months.

Mr. Piñol said AboitizPower executives briefed the government on the floating solar farms’ potential for generating power to run ice-making and cold storage facilities in remote fishing communities, thereby helping resolve the issue of post-harvest losses in the fisheries sector because the fresh catch cannot be immediately sold, processed, or stored.

The power officials said power can also be stored in batteries to provide light to the fishing communities.

The use of floating solar farms allows generators to minimize land use.

The technology was introduced in the Philippines by SN Aboitiz Power-Magat (SNAP-Magat), a joint venture between Norwegian company SN Power and AboitizPower.

In June, SNAP-Magat invested P24 million for a 200-kilowatt pilot floating solar project in Ramon, Isabela. The Isabela farm has 720 solar panels overs 2,500 square meters of the Magat reservoir.

The DA and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are also set to sign a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the Solar-Powered Rural Water Supply Program, which will provide irrigation for vegetable farms and high value crops and potable drinking water for remote areas.

The two departments agreed to start the program this year with a prototype to be funded by the DA under its Solar-Powered Irrigation System project.

Mr. Piñol said, also on social media, that about 30% of 40,000 barangays nationwide do not have access to safe drinking water, which also affects food production, especially vegetables and other crops.

In a text message, Mr. Piñol said the MoA is still being drafted, but he expects the DILG to be responsible for identifying the barangays, while the DA will construct the facility and organize the farmers using it.

The MoA signing is expected next month. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang