Satellite to check ricefields

Posted on January 10, 2013

THE AGRICULTURE department, in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), will start using a satellite imaging system with cloud-penetrating capabilities to monitor the status of ricefields in the Philippines, officials of the department and of the global institution said in separate interviews earlier this month.

The government is seeking a better way to assess the impact of climate change on rice farmers. -- AFP
V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI deputy director-general for Communications and Partnerships, said the institute will provide the department with a technology that will enable it to monitor rice production.

“This technology will use a French satellite, which is made available to IRRI by a special agreement, to monitor the status of rice plantations in the Philippines,” Mr. Tolentino said in a telephone interview last Jan. 2, adding that the satellite uses radio waves to see through clouds.

Data sent to IRRI will be analyzed, and the resulting reports submitted to the department.

“This technology will enable us to identify and quantify the impact of different elements that influence rice production including temperature, moisture levels and even damage caused by typhoons,” Mr. Tolentino said, saying the technology should enable prompt, more accurate assessments.

Mr. Tolentino also said that the project will help the department improve planning of interventions and projects geared towards increasing rice production.

“The technology also promises to provide information important for agricultural insurance and credit service,” he added.

The project, called Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM), costs a total of 171.3 million.

The project, which started this month, will end in 2016.

PRISM is part of the 903.3-million Sustaining Self-Sufficiency and Food Security in the Philippines program, whose memorandum of agreement was signed on Dec. 3 last year by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and IRRI Director-General Robert S. Ziegler.

The same program involves IRRI providing the department with drought- and flood-resistant rice varieties and other technologies to help farmers increase production despite the changing climate. -- Raymond Jun R. Portillo