PHilMech in tune with Sec. Dar’s vision for 4ID application in agriculture

One of the advocacies of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar even before he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the Department of Agriculture (DA) is to introduce Fourth Industrial Revolution (4ID) technologies into Philippine agriculture.

While the application of 4ID technologies like data analytics, geographic information system (GIS), artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) into agriculture is hardly heard of in the Philippines, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) can make a claim as among the first agencies under the DA to tap into the 4ID sphere.

The use of a web-based geographic information system (GIS) can greatly help concerned government agencies in agriculture to map out their development programs, projects and strategies, according to PHilMech.

“The GIS continues to play crucial role in agriculture, specifically in increasing production through effective management and treatment of various agricultural inputs, risk assessment, pest control and many other projects that increase resource use efficiency in consequence with environment protection,” a PHilMech paper titled “Establishment of GIS-Based Decision Support System for Postharvest Development and Mechanization,” stated.
The GIS being developed by PHilMech would be used to determine the degree of mechanization of farm lands in the Philippines.
The paper showed that PHilMech for over 15 years has gathered, processed, cleaned, sorted and encoded huge amounts of data on farm postharvest and mechanization facilities. The effort was part of the project “Collaborative Project on Postharvest Development Masterplanning and Database Management.”

The gathering of the data was a result of the collaboration among the DA, its regional offices and a number of attached agencies like the National Food Authority, PHilMech, National Irrigation Authority, local government units, state colleges and universities, and the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers, which is now the Philippine Society of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers.

“At present, the web-based protocol in accessing and updating the databases are being enhanced to make it more intuitive, so that users can easily access the specific data that they would like to generate. Database management staff use querying protocol to quickly respond to requests of internal and external clients for various data from the databases,” the PHilMech paper said.

To determine local/community conditions

The agency’s efforts has resulted in GIS maps showing the location and density of specific postharvest facilities and farm machines, which will help PHilMech develop projects that fit local or community conditions.

With the developments PHilMech has made in its databasing and development of GIS maps, the agency is planning to allow stakeholders in the agriculture sector to access the databases through a web-based protocol. There is also a need to enable web-based updating.

“In order to maintain up-to-date databases, the web-based updating system should be implemented, and in a wider coverage, such as municipal-level data updating portals,” the PHilMech paper said.
With PHilMech pioneering and continuing the development of the GIS system to determine the farm mechanization level on the country, it has demonstrated that it is forward-looking and in tune with the advocacy of Sec. Dar to level up the country’s agriculture sector with 4ID technologies.

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