Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that more S&T-based solutions will be necessary for the Philippines to meet key challenges in food security and agricultural production.
Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, made the call after the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said that demographic pressures will weigh heavily on future food production given that a quarter of the world's landmass is already highly degraded.
The former Agriculture Secretary also took note that the FAO called for the global food system to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, saying the challenge will be to decouple food from fluctuating energy prices.
"The FAO lays out very significant technical challenges which we will have to take into account as we pour more resources into modernizing our agricultural sector," said Angara, author of such landmark agricultural bills as the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA). "It is important that we look both into land use practices and energy consumption."
Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad reported that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will receive P25 billion for its 2012 budget, representing a P13 billion increase from its 2011 budget.
Angara, also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), noted that P90 million of the proposed 2012 budget will be devoted to forming an innovation cluster in precision farming and smart agriculture.
COMSTE has been pushing for the deployment of innovation clusters--focused partnerships among government, academe and industry that will roll out advanced technologies like remote sensing and high-speed ICT for agricultural applications.
Angara explained, "With satellite imagery, our farmers can better plan out their land use, and ensure that their practices do not overly degrade the quality of our soil."
"But we also need to start looking into how the sector's energy demands are met. We may have to consider mainstreaming energy efficiency measures or start pushing for small-scale renewable energy systems," added the veteran lawmaker, who also authored the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.
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