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PHL to lead the third green revolution

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has cited the Philippines’ potential to emerge at the forefront of the third green revolution through improved information and satellite technology.

Ensuring food security still remains to be an agricultural challenge in the 21st century with several factors jeopardizing efforts to significantly increase crop productivity. Among these include extreme weather events further compounded by climate change, thereby resulting in the rise of crop losses.

“The problems of food security, of course, are not limited to the Philippines. The problems of food security are shared all across the globe,” said Dr. Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships.

Rice is a vital crop for global food security as it is the staple food for the world’s poor. Tolentino noted 90 percent (or about 140 million hectares) of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia.

However, the rice crop is frequently exposed to the damaging effects of tropical storms, drought, and flooding. Delivering timely and accurate information on rice (i.e. crop area, crop growth, and losses due to calamities) is therefore essential for most Asian nations.

It was believed that the first green revolution came in the 1960s up to 1970s when farmers used plant breeding to increase the yield of rice and corn. The second revolution, on the other hand, remained in progress, where knowledge on plant and animal genetics as well as the pulling of better genes to boost rice traits are being applied by farmers.

Tolentino said that the Philippines is propelling a kind of green revolution-- the third green revolution that provides timely seasonal data on rice area and yield, as well as assessment of crop health and damage in the event of a typhoon, flood, or drought. In fact, it is the only country in Southeast Asia to have such an operational system.
Tolentino highlighted a major breakthrough pioneered by the Philippines, which mainly relies on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery for rice crop monitoring.

Through a collaborative project involving the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the IRRI, an infrastructure called the Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) aims to develop a monitoring and information system for rice production in the Philippines.

PRISM relies on data from remote sensing, crop models, in-field crop surveys and other fieldwork to deliver substantive information, which are very useful in improving damage and loss assessments.

The data are likewise utilized in providing appropriate interventions for rehabilitation and recovery and to improve pre-disaster preparedness.

The IRRI official stressed the need to share this breakthrough to neighboring ASEAN countries, noting that such information can help key decision makers to derive better policies and improvements related to food security.

”If we are talking about ASEAN, we need to be able to cooperate across borders in order to ensure that whatever problems are faced by one country can be dealt with as a group in true ASEAN fashion,” said Tolentino.

”As PRISM is developed and rolled out across the region, we’re able to get access to that data across borders. It is a crucial tool not only for the Philippines but across other countries, and the Philippines is leading the way,” he added. (PNA) RMA/FMC

Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes/PNA