The United Nations’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday said it is set to roll out a program which aims to maximize the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in agriculture in the Philippines.
During the Innovative Strategies for Development Summit, Assistant FAO Representative to the Philippines Aristeo A. Portugal said the UN unit has partnered with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the implementation of the National E-agriculture Strategy in the country.
“We are starting a project with the DA to come up with a strategic framework to incorporate ICT in agriculture,” Portugal said.
The FAO is targeting to roll out the program within the second half of 2016. The project will be implemented in the next two to three years.
Tamara Jean C. Palis, FAO program assistant, told the BusinessMirror the project aims to harmonize all ICT interventions for agriculture in the Philippines.
“Right now, we have a lot of individual ICT interventions for agriculture, but there is no framework that harmonizes all of these. The e-agriculture strategy will improve the efficiency of [ICT projects], and benefit agricultural value chains,” Palis said.
In a presentation, Portugal said ICT can bridge the gap between agricultural researchers, extension agents and farmers, and result in higher agricultural production.
ICT can also used to improve farmers’ access to climate-smart practices. It can be applied to disaster management and early-warning systems; ensuring food safety and traceability; and policy implementation and monitoring.
Through technological innovations, farmers can expand their access to markets and financial services, such as credit and microinsurance.
However, Portugal said synchronizing and leveraging the implementation of ICT in Philippine agriculture remains a challenge for the government and stakeholders.
The National E-agriculture Strategy is an initiative of the FAO and is being piloted in Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines. Palis said the project has a total cost of $200,000.
While the project has already been approved by the DA, Palis said its implementation is currently on hold, as the agency awaits incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol to formally assume office.
The FAO-ITU E-agriculture Strategy Guide (http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5564e.pdf) was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with support from partners including the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) as a framework for countries in developing their national e-agriculture strategy/masterplan.