By Vina Medenilla
The Philippines, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, has a strong bilateral connection with Israel and India in the field of agriculture. This 2021, DA aims to achieve a 2.5 percent growth through the strategies that fall under its major components: consolidation, modernization, industrialization, and professionalization.
“Precision agriculture, digital agriculture, and resilient agriculture will always be the main innovation system that will trigger higher levels of productivity today and in the future. The DA will also amplify the climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that will help our farmers in the future,” Dar added. As part of this development, Dar emphasized the expansion of e-Kadiwa, a digital marketing application that links farm producers to consumers amid community quarantine, as well as the distribution of agricultural drones and hybrid seeds to attain maximum farm productivity and efficiency.
In terms of our relations with Israel, Nir Balzam, Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Israel, hopes to see development in various areas of agriculture such as irrigation. Balzam added, “An important aspect in our bilateral relations with the Philippines is thousands of agriculture students that stayed in Israel for almost a year on on-the-job training.” As of March 2021, about 400 Philippine agriculture students are part of the program, and Balzam said that their agency is also open to offer projects for returnees or alumni in the future.
In connection with precision agriculture, we speak of technology that would benefit farms and farmers. This is why Jain Irrigation System Ltd. developed a clog-resistant drip irrigation system in India that is said to reduce water consumption and energy, to enhance the use of fertilizer, while also increasing productivity, farmers’ income, and yield. This specific technology is also being used and introduced in the Philippines by Harbest Agribusiness Corporation.
Christoper Fadriga, National President and Board of Directors in Plantacion de Sikwate Cacao Producers Association, Inc. (PDS), shared that they have also adopted a micro irrigation system in one of their projects in Talisay, Negros Occidental, specifically in C Y & Sons Cacao Farm. Since they are growing Criollo cacao, a long-term crop, investing in a micro irrigation system will help minimize the cost in the long run. He explained, “Cacao is a long-term crop. We project it to a minimum of 25 years, so the investment for the irrigation system can be amortized, making the cost to the system affordable and justifiable to be computed as cost every year.” He added that the application of water-soluble fertilizer is also easier since it can be applied evenly through this type of irrigation system.