Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
A report by think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies said slow adoption of new technologies has impeded the growth of the agriculture industry.
Having remained in the mechanization phase, our agriculture industry is revolutions behind the absorption of technology when compared to other countries that are already benefitting from innovations in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.
Mechanization is considered part of the world’s second industrial revolution, while breakthroughs in robotics are already part of the fourth industrial revolution (FIRe) – showing how far behind the Philippines has lagged behind.
Trade Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba described agriculture as the “weakest link” among industries in the country, citing data from 2000 to 2017 showing a declining growth rate to 1.4 percent from 3.2 percent.
PIDS has found that the slowdown in the adoption of new technologies may be partly explained by the government’s lack of spending for infrastructure and science and technology geared towards agriculture. Some FIRe technologies that could be used to improve the sector’s productivity include drones which can be used for precision spraying, while biotechnology and synthetic biology can be employed to improve crops and invent pharmaceuticals.
As evidenced by the recent price surges, the markets are there but we do not have the necessary supply of agriculture products. With agricultural lands being converted to residential and industrial estates, productivity must be improved to ensure food security and government must find ways to give technology a larger role in that effort.
The Department of Agriculture under Secretary Emmanuel Piñol promised to usher in a golden age of agriculture that has, thus far, produced disappointing results. Rice is expensive, fish is imported, and the prices of vegetables have skyrocketed but with 2019 budgets for the DA and the Department of Science and Technology having been cut, it would seem like the Filipino people will have to wait a few more years for a revolution, or a golden age when it comes to agriculture in this country.*