April 24, 2024


Commissioned project aids Philippine agriculture by using satellites



Technology experts in the Philippines have started digitally mapping all food producing areas and their supporting public works infrastructure in the country to help sustain food security and accelerate production, an information and communication technology (ICT) group said last week.


At this year's ClickConex (2024 Convergence of Luzon ICT Champions Conference and Exhibition), Jessraf Palmares, president of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), said the organisation has commissioned Project Sarai (Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños to chart the condition of Philippine farms, including those of marine and aquaculture food producers.


Project Sarai is financed by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and has been using satellite technology to provide daily weather forecasts, monitor crops and acquire applicable data to reduce the impact of extreme weather on farms in many regions.


NICP is the umbrella organisation of more than a hundred ICT councils operating in different towns and cities, representing both the public and private sectors.


"We have a serious food security challenge in the country," said Roberto Tinsay, a member of the NICP board of trustees, during a news conference.


"Sarai is a Filipino platform that has been using satellites to get farm-precision data on the ground. Simply speaking, if you have no data, you cannot manage anything," Tinsay said.


However, Project Sarai would need the consent of a local government unit (LGU) before it could proceed with mapping activities there, Tinsay noted. The local government would need to shoulder part of the cost as its counterpart to the national government grant used by Project Sarai, he added.


Tinsay has opened talks regarding prospective technology partnership deals with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform, Palmares told the Inquirer.


He said he talked to Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III and they discussed how to introduce digital technology to increase agrarian land productivity.


"We are also working with the University of Asia and the Pacific to come up with a framework as to how we will approach innovation from the point of view of the private sector," Palmares added.


He said the framework would harness technology that has predictive capabilities concerning the weather and that identifies suitable crops for certain regions.


"We have to approach farming in a scientific way," Palmares stressed.

- Inquirer

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