Press Release
June 27, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for the deployment of more Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools and applications in enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the country's agricultural sector.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, noted that the Philippine e-Extension Program of the Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) was recognized during the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, held a week before the recent Rio+20 Summit of the United Nations.

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 which a human agent, in consultation with key experts, texts or calls back with a reply. Crosby then said it might be possible for the model to be replicated across the region.

"We need more of these innovative, ICT-driven and highly collaborative initiatives for our agricultural sector to boom," said Angara, who authored the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997. "We must capitalize on the opportunities opened up by ICT towards increasing our crop yields and making them more disaster-resilient, especially in the face of a growing population and an erratic climate."

The former secretary of agriculture noted that 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.

Around P90 million of the 2012 national budget is pending release from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for this project.

"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," explained Angara. "It is only through the synergy of these players can we provide meaningful technical support and extension services to our farmers."

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