Agriculture dep’t planning tech cooperation with Indian state

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Uttar Pradesh farmers

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it hopes to cooperate with the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to develop farm technology appropriate for Philippine conditions.

Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Jose Gabriel M. La Viña told BusinessWorld that the DA plans to form a technical working group (TWG) follows the visit of a delegation from the Uttar Pradesh state government earlier this month.

“We basically exchanged ideas on farming. I was interested in how they are using technology to help the farmers,” he added, noting that the main point of interest is “using technology to increase productivity.”

Uttar Pradesh recently donated around 5 hectares of land for the International Rice Research Institute to use in field studies.

In a social media post on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, facing down budget cuts, injected a note of urgency to the search for technology to improve productivity, and said rice import are not the solution to ensure food security.

“Relying on imports and reducing government expenditure on the rice program would drive farmers away from their rice farms,” he added.

The National Rice Program had its 2019 budget reduced by 37% to P7.41 million.

“They will either venture into other crops or lease their land. When this happens, the country will be highly dependent on imported rice and the rice exporting countries can dictate prices.”

Domestic rice production is sufficient for 93% of demand, which the DA is hoping to raise to 95%. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato