Press Release
November 11, 2020

Data-driven agriculture should be able to help raise farmers' incomes: Pangilinan

IMAGINE Filipino rice farmer Mang Romeo checking his cellphone for the type of soil of his sakahan, or current price of his crops, or the weather and getting immediate response so that he can make the proper interventions. Technologies already exist that would lower the risks to losses and thus earn more for him.

This is what the various experts in agriculture and technology want for Filipino farmers as they presented data science, 3D printing, satellite imagery, and other technologies at the Sixth Agricultural Development Coffee Talk Series entitled, "Towards A Data-Driven Rice Policy".

"Ito ang gusto nating mangyari para maahon sa kahirapan ang ating mga magsasaka. At pag nangyari ito, masisiguro rin natin na may pagkain tayong lahat sa ating hapag-kainan," said Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, author of the Sagip Saka Act or Republic Act 11321.

Section 3 of the Sagip Saka Act provides that government use science-based technologies to identify and prioritize agricultural and fishery products.

Pangilinan, who is a vegetable farmer, said technology has been crucial during the pandemic when farmers in the rural areas have been linked directly to consumers in the urban centers.

"The future is digital, even in farming. The challenge is to bring these technologies to the farmers," he said.

Pangilinan stressed that the Sagip Saka Law seeks to improve the livelihood of farmers and fisher folk by short-circuiting the food supply chain through the direct purchase of consumers (local and national governments and private buyers) from the food producers themselves. He said this should be coupled with continuing research to improve food production and distribution.

According to Dennis Layug, senior technical adviser on information technology and marketing of the Department of Agriculture, farmers and fisher folk will soon be able to communicate directly with DA through chatbots, which will also serve as the survey platform of the agency.

Organized by the COVID-19 Action Network and Action for Economic Response, the series speakers also included Eduardo Jimmy Quilang Ph.D., officer in charge and project leader of the Philippine Rice Information System (PhilRICE).

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