Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bringing help closer to the farmers

WHEN it comes to the use of digital technology in agriculture, the Philippines is not really at the top of the list.

"The Philippines have tried to use the technology but it was costly and complicated," Henry Aguda, chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer of Union Bank, said during the TechUp Pilipinas Agri Summit in Davao City in 2018.

He pointed out that these technologies can help increase the yield of the farmers.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has mentioned in earlier reports that it is keen on using technology to improve the agriculture of the country.

Clint Hassan, DA director for information and communications technology service (ICTS), said in the same summit that the agency has already laid down information technology (IT) initiatives in 2018 to 2020.

We may be seeing one of these IT initiatives now as DA implements a program that uses digital technology to identify that farmers who will benefit from the assistance provided by the government.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, March 10, DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said DA regional offices have been directed to validate farmers in the country using drones and digital technology. This is to ensure that government interventions "will not go to the 'wrong hands'."

Piñol said ICTS designed an IT system that will store information about every farmer and fishermen in the country.

"The format will employ the aerial mapping and geo-tagging technology to ensure that the location of the farms and houses of the farmers and fishermen are validated," Piñol said.

He said they are piloting this initiative by initially identifying and validating rice and corn farmers in the regions. This is part of the agency's preparation for the delivery of support and interventions from government this year.

Piñol said these interventions include the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and the P30-billion National Fertilizer Support Program (NFSP).

The RCEF is expected to be released this mid-year and this involves the delivery of farm equipment and machinery and seeds for rice farmers while the NFSP provides at least six bags of fertilizer for each rice and corn farmer all over the country.

Piñol said in the past, "government interventions were marked by irregularities with seeds, fertilizers and machinery going to the wrong beneficiaries."

"The delivery of interventions in the past were also marred by political interference leading some farmers to complain that only those who are close to the political powers received help," he added.

"With the implementation of the Farmer’s Database which uses Digital Technology through Aerial Mapping and Geo-Tagging, the interventions will be delivered directly to the real beneficiaries," Piñol said.


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