THE technology deficit widened in agriculture even after the passage of Republic Act 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said, citing the results of a study.

Citing the International Food Policy Research Institute, PIDS said the Philippines lagged most of Southeast Asia in total factor productivity between 2001-2014.

The study concluded that the Philippines experienced a “slowdown in technological progress” during the period.

“Advances in productivity have been observed in Philippine agriculture, especially in rice and corn. However, progress has fallen behind that of other countries, whether concerning outcomes or inputs,” PIDS researchers said.

The researchers had issued a study, “How Modern is Philippine Agriculture Fisheries?: The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act after a Quarter Century.”

“The Philippines is characterized as having middle-level farm mechanization, with very low mechanization during planting and harvesting,” the study found.

The Department of Agriculture estimates the mechanization level of farms at 1.23 horsepower per hectare (hp/ha), well below the 4 hp/ha elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

According to the study, the Philippines’ “inability to achieve a sustainable economic transformation” was due to the lack of recognition of the role played by technology and innovation.

PIDS said that “regional concentration of industries” created a technological gap between urban and rural areas. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera