Press Release
November 2, 2010


The Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) is currently developing an ICT system that uses remote sensing and satellite imagery to provide real-time data and modeling for local farmers as one of its flagship projects for 2011.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, said that, "Competitive agriculture means efficiently growing high value crops, using remote sensing to anticipate heavy rains or drought, understanding the effects of climate change and pollution on productivity, and having an integrated view of the logistics of produce delivery to the market,"

Angara noted the significant benefits of utilizing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in building resilience and adaptability into the vulnerable agricultural sector.

"According to the Department of Agriculture, Typhoon Juan alone has wrought nearly P12 billion in farm damage," said Angara, who also pointed out the significant damage brought by storms such as Ondoy and Pepeng, which threatened the agricultural supply of the country.

Former Department of Science and Technology (DA) Secretary Dr. William G. Padolina, Chair of the Agriculture and Food Panel of COMSTE, provided an overview of the need for ICTs in the agricultural sector, stating that: (1) most poverty-related problems in the country occur in the far-flung rural/agricultural areas; (2) the health of the sector also relies on the health of each individual farmer; and (3) the import of accuracy and timeliness of information delivery to farmers.

Dr. Josefino Comiso of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that satellite imagery comes from their Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), which can provide data measuring land-vegetation index, oceanic parameters such as sea surface temperature, ocean color, and many others due to its ability to capture data in 36 spectral bands. The information is free and accessible due to the recent purchase by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) of a MODIS receiver.

The project was identified by the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Agriculture panels of COMSTE, as part of a plan to deliver basic services such as decision support systems for the agricultural and rural sectors, and improving services delivery to the poor and far-flung areas, said Angara.

According to a COMSTE report, the project aims to take advantage of structures already in place, specifically the far-reaching private telecommunications infrastructure all over the country, and the MODIS receiver currently with PAGASA. Given that satellite data from NASA through MODIS is free, and the means for distributions is already in place, then the challenge of setting up the project is in information processing, not funding for infrastructure.

The main challenge of the project would be translating scientific, even numerical data, from the satellite into applicable data for the use of farmers and fishermen. The translation comes in two steps: (1) analysis of numerical data from satellite, and with field data for calibration and confirmation, translate these into maps and models; (2) translation and simplification of scientific data and its implications into relevant information that farmers and fisher folk can understand and use, according to the report.

The NASA MODIS traverses the entire earth every 1-2 days on two satellites, providing real-time data which is freely accessible with a MODIS receiver.

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