MANILA — The Philippines is pioneering in Southeast Asia and even the world a state-of-the-art technology that provides timely and accurate information on rice crucial to achieving food self-sufficiency.
Dr. V. Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), expressed hope that other countries would follow the Philippine example and utilize the Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM).
“Because the rice market is global, it’s not only Philippines.It is a good idea to know what the other countries are doing and how the other countries are faring in terms of their harvest so that we can predict the global market because we are affected by global prices,” he said in an interview with Philippines News Agency.
PRISM aims to deliver actionable information on rice crop seasonality, area, yield, pest injuries, crop management and damages during extreme weather events using data from remote sensing, crop models, smartphone-based surveys of farmers’ fields and farmer interviews, and other sources.
Under the PRISM project, Tolentino said the government appropriately targets and allocates the resources necessary for farmers to be able to increase their yields, and protect them from impacts of calamities and adapt to diseases, typhoon damages or natural floods.
“That means the rice sector will be much more effective and much more resilient,” he noted.
Tolentino said the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) would work to ensure that PRISM serves an area that has been underserved, particularly the Muslim Mindanao.
He stressed there are growing large rice areas in Davao Norte, Davao Sur and Cotabato. Most of the country’s rice products currently come from Central Luzon.
“A lot of support should also be directed to those areas, they were really neglected in the past,” he added. “IRRI is recommending to the DA that they consider increasing support to those areas.”
IRRI on Wednesday turned over PRISM technology for full operation by the DA through the PhilRice and the regional field offices (RFOs).
PRISM, which has been running for the past two years, is now ready to be fully operational based on its current status and capability to produce data.
The DA-RFOs oversee all activities in over 1,000 rice fields monitored by PRISM since its inception in 2014. They are responsible for validating and managing all data collected from their regions.
DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan said the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other major project components already agreed that they will coordinate to come up with data and information needed by the farmers.
Cayanan noted these agencies will “not compete, not to contrast or look which would be more appropriate” data and information.
Engr. Christopher Morales, DA Field Operations Planning Division Chief, estimated that Php25 million to Php30-million budget is needed to sustain the operations of PRISM every year. Leslie Venzon/PNA-northboundasia.com