LOS BANOS – A nationwide crop forecasting system is in the works for farmers to cope with future climates.
“The idea is to predict and come up with crop models, using 40 years climate data so we can advice farmers when to plant and when to harvest through applications that can be transmitted through text messages,” said Dr. Amelia P. Guevara, Undersecretary for Research and Development, Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“This program will increase the yield of rice, corn, banana, coconut, coffee and cacao through technologies and strategies that minimize the effects of climate change,” Guevara told the ICT-Asia workshop hosted last week by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Guevara said Project SARAI (Smarter Approaches to Re-invigorate Agriculture as an Industry) will update cropping calendars under current and projected climate change conditions. It will also assess the soil’s physical and biochemical conditions as well as the availability and quality of soil water that influence crop production.
Food security assessment and monitoring require a crop forecasting system that provides reliableand timely estimates of crop production, said Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, Professor of Statistics and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB.
Crop forecasting in the Philippines is currently based on the quarterly Palay and Corn Production Survey involving enumeration and interviews of a large number of farmers regarding planting intentions, areas cropped and yields, he said.
“These surveys are time-consuming and crop estimates are subject to measurement errors,” said Lansigan.
So far, Project SARAI has generated computer models for rice and corn; these were validated on the ground in Isabela ad other parts of the country. Estimates of area planted using remote sensing were verified. Seasonal and climate forecasts based on regional climate outlook were confirmed.
Application of “smarter” crop forecasting in Isabela province, the country’s leading rice and corn producer, shows that crop forecasts are reliable and timely, said Lansigan.
Estimates of area cropped are less subject to measurement errors, he pointed out, adding the forecasting system can be used to assess crop production under an anticipated climate scenario.
Smarter crop forecasting is potentially a useful tool for assessing food security and developing early warning systems, Lansigan said.