Develop ICT applications for agriculture, PHL senator says
Stressing that agriculture and high tech can —and should— mix, Sen. Edgardo Angara on Wednesday pushed for more Information and Communications Technology (ICT) applications in enhancing the agriculture sector.
Angara said the country must capitalize on the opportunities opened up by ICT to increase crop yields and make them more disaster-resilient, especially amid a growing population and an erratic climate.
“In getting the government, academe and industry together under this initiative, we wish to see remote sensing technologies like UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and even satellite images utilized to give farmers a more comprehensive, macroeconomic view of their crops,” said Angara, a former agriculture secreatry and author of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997.
"We need more of these innovative, ICT-driven and highly collaborative initiatives for our agricultural sector to boom," he added.
He noted international forums have taken note of Philippine programs that combine ICT and agriculture, such as the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Training Institute Philippine e-Extension Program.
The program was recognized at the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, a week before the United Nations' Rio+20 Summit.
At the forum, Gregory Crosby of the US Department of Agriculture cited the mobile phone component of the program, where farmers can text or phone in their questions to a human agent. The agent consults with key experts then texts or calls back with a reply.
Crosby then said it might be possible for the model to be replicated across the region.
Angara said the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which he also chairs, has lobbied for the deployment of an innovation cluster—a public-private partnership (PPP) in S&T—on precision farming and smart agriculture.
Some P90 million of the 2012 national budget is pending release from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for this project.
“It is only through the synergy of these players can we provide meaningful technical support and extension services to our farmers,” he said. — TJD, GMA News
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