[BUKIDNON VIEWS] FIRST PERSON: Adopting ICT Solutions in Agriculture

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By Roderico R. Bioco

My warm congratulations to the organizer of this year’s Mindanao ICT Cluster Convention, especially to my good friend, the convention chairman, Mr. Bob Tinsay. Kudos to all the resource speakers, special guests, sponsors, our partners in DICT, DOST, DTI and other National Agencies, LGUs and dear participants to this 2nd Mindanao ICT Cluster Conference aptly themed “Building Emerging Technologies to E-Agriculture and Rural Areas Providing Digital Opportunities for Economic Impact in Mindanao”

ICT has been at the forefront in advancing our business community especially on our Micro and SME. It is our desire to bring our products to the market thru innovations in ICT, and this event is truly a major milestone in the advocacy for rural economic development.

PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry) has been actively promoting ICT capabilities in conveying our products and services to the consumers directly. It aims to work closely with national agencies and more importantly now with LGUs, which are poised to play a critical role with their additional resources from the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling that will increase their IRA (internal revenue allotment) by at least 30%. In our attempt to establish Malaybalay incubation hub, the small support of the LGU to provide connectivity thru co-working space, helped start up many small businesses.

With the advent of new normal, it is even more imperative to provide innovative ICT solutions, starting with the solid connectivity infrastructure and baseline registry system. The connectivity infrastructure is being led by our private players laying the foundation of more reliable and higher capacity internet connectivity. The baseline registry system is just as important especially to agriculture, which is the main focus of this event, which I wish to emphasize also.

Farm registry is an important system that government needs to address. It is part of the on-going policy of government to modernize the cadastral system of the country by transforming lot descriptions into GPS coordinates, which will usher to modern mapping applications. Some LGUs like Malaybalay City have already complied and taken advantage of the applications such as tax mapping, social welfare registry, among others. This is a public investment that will bring common good including to our investors and entrepreneurs.

The DA (Department of Agriculture) still needs to officially adopt GIS based farm registry system which is now a global norm and already used even by less developed countries.  It is important to modernize the RSBSA (Registry System for Basic Sectors of Agriculture). In the era of precision farming, this is crucial in targeting the farms (and farmers) suitable to produce a particular product at the right time and bring directly to the consumer through complex system of post-harvest and logistics network.

Adoption of ICT solutions in agriculture is generally regarded as “precision farming”. Adopting the technology, both macro and micro level planning can be converged. We already have the institutions and scientists who can capacitate us. In the region, we have Xavier University (XU), Central Mindanao University (CMU), MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology and University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) where my good friend Dr. Edgar Allan Po, PhD in Precision Farming and Geoscience, is doing more applications of the technology on small and medium farms, as well as for macro solutions.

Part of this program is the wide adoption of improved version of Good Agricultural Practice or GAP which emphasizes not just food safety but also traceability. This is where public baseline information system is crucial and that ICT solutions play a critical role. GAP is a major requirement of institutional buyers. There are many private initiatives already providing e-commerce for agriculture but requires GAP certification limiting the extent of adoption. To bring more of our small farmers to the mainstream market, there is a need for both DA and LGUs to assist our farmers to comply with GAP.

Moreover, better planning and decision making rely in having reliable information. Unfortunately, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), our only source of official data, is still using old method and most of us in the private sector do not regard its data us reliable. The incoming update of Census on Agriculture and Fisheries (CAF) in 2022 may still be using the old existing methodology according to PSA due to lack of budget support or motivation from congress to transform data gathering (base lining) using GIS, which may cost Php5 billion or more.

As an improvement in the basic tenet in management, what we can measure more precisely, we can manage better. But more frankly, garbage-in data, garbage out decisions. There is really an urgent clamor in the midst of soaring food prices and food supply insecurity to improve the estimation of our annual crop production using the global norm: GIS, Remote Sensing and AI. These are the tools we need from ICT.

As your regional representative to PCCI, ICT development is part of my core advocacy. It is with great honor indeed to be invited and become part of this event. Again, Congratulations. Thank you very much.

Roderico R. Bioco is the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Region 10 Regional Governor. He chairs the Bukidnon Giant Bamboo Resources Corporation. Adopting ICT Solutions in Agriculture was his message during the 2nd Mindanao ICT Cluster Conference on September 3-4, 2021. FIRST PERSON is a section in the BukidnonNews.Net website dedicated to select statements, speeches, comments and other views on public matters. If you want to contribute to FIRST PERSON, email your piece, contact details and bio profile to editor.bukidnonnews@gmail.com.)  


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