Philippines highlights rising role of digital agriculture at FAO Regional Conference

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the digitalization of the country's agriculture under the "new normal"

The Department of Agriculture (DA), FAO's main government partner in the Philippines, said it would push for the digitalization of the country’s agriculture sector under the “new normal” to achieve its goals of reducing poverty and attaining food security in the country.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar told delegates during the high-level Ministerial Session at the recent 35th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (#APRC35) virtual meeting that it is important to teach farm families to capitalize digital agriculture to increase their productivity and incomes.

“It is important that we continuously empower vulnerable groups —smallholder farmers, fisherfolk, rural women, the youth,  indigenous communities and farm families, in general—by providing them the needed technical, marketing and financial support, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dar said.

“Now, more than ever, we should reinforce this by teaching farm families to take advantage of data-driven or digital agriculture to further increase their productivity and incomes,” Dar, who was elected APRC35 Vice Chairman, added.

FAO and DA, through its various line agencies, are working together to promote digital agriculture in the country through initiatives that include the use of drones and digital tools and platforms to monitor production, assess damage from natural disasters, and implement early warning early action protocols, among others.

The FAO Regional Conferences play an important role in governance for policy coherence for regional development; discussion of global priorities as they relate to the region; providing inputs to the Council and Conference on FAO priorities, and discussing issues such as COVID-19 and intra-regional trade and investment.

Dar said during the meeting that the DA is “fast-tracking” the development of a digital road map for the agriculture sector to promote and integrate precision agriculture and digital technology in local farming practices.

“We aim to integrate digital technologies in the food value chain and logistics, benefiting both producers and consumers,” Dar said.

The DA said it aims to have “real-time access to ICT-driven crop production and risk and damage assessment information with the use of drones and dynamic cropping calendar.”

The DA disclosed that it recently installed a dashboard at Dar’s office, where real-time and updated critical policy-making information is available to the secretary at his fingertips and is updated daily.

These information include farmers’ registry, farm machineries distributed, and farm-to-market roads constructed, among other infrastructure and major DA initiatives, according to DA.

The DA said it is also pursuing partnerships with the private sector, civil society, and international research institutions to digitize Philippine agriculture.

UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations