Press Release
April 26, 2016

PRISM will boost rice production - Villar

Since rice remains an important source of livelihood and income of Filipino farmers, Senator Cynthia Villar underscored the critical role of the Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) project to boost rice production.

Villar said rice farmers, are the longest sector in Agriculture.

Also, being the country's main staple, rice provides 45 percent of the caloric intake of Filipinos, accounting for 20 percent of a typical household's budget.

"Thus, if would be deemed remiss in our duties and responsibilities if we are not able to produce accurate and timely information on rice, particularly its production and yield gaps. These data are important for us to create plans and draft policies," said Villar, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Food committee.

With PRISM, she said the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and their other partners - are using technologies like remote sensing, crop models, in-field crop surveys, information and communications technology (ICT), among others.

She said PRISM would help produce practical and useful information on rice crop seasonality; area; yield; damage from flood, wind, or drought; and yield-reducing factors like diseases, animal pests, and weeds.

"And that goldmine of data will surely allow all of us to do our jobs much better. And of course, the information gathered would greatly benefit our farmers, farmers' groups and others involved in agriculture. They will be the ultimate beneficiaries of it, in the long run," said Villar.

?"As PRISM cited itself, it will "revolutionize information on the when, where and how much of rice as well as crop health assessments and flood or drought damage" These are all important indicators in our efforts to address food security in our country," further stated Villar. The senator noted that if we know the exact location of rice and how it is grown as well as the various factors affecting it, we will be able to develop and deploy more specific and responsive technologies to help increase rice production.

She emphasized that one of the most important data from PRISM is the assessment of damages on crops during typhoons and other natural disasters like El Niño.

"As we are all aware of, when a super typhoon wreaks havoc in our country, agriculture is the most battered sector," said Villar.

In a few days, she related that agricultural losses can pile up to millions and even billions of pesos.

"I am sure, like me, you are relieved to know that in the event of recurring natural calamities, PRISM provides accurate information on the extent of damage in rice areas and production losses. Thus, necessary interventions are immediately identified and rice production shortfalls are easily assessed and reported," she said,

She also said PRISM will be of valuable use in mitigating the ill effects of climate change, our country being one of the most vulnerable in the world.

She said climate-related impacts will reduce cultivatable land, which will decrease agricultural productivity and increase food insecurity. Studies also show that increasing Philippine temperature may cause more than 30 percent production losses in rice farming communities that are unable to cope with pervasive heat.

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