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Jul 21, 2010

Filipino Farmers Use Cell Phones For Precision Farming Advice on Fertilizers

On 21 July 2010, SciDev.Net reported that the International Rice Research Institutue (IRRI), the Philippine Department of Agriculture and the cell-phone company Globe have teamed up to provide Filipino farmers with access via cell phone to advice on fertilizer issues.  The progam has been rolled out now to help Filipino rice farmers with their plantings this September. 

This program is based on 'precision agriculture,' which maximizes yields and reduces environmental damage.  The farmer provides the "remote sensing" by answering questions regarding the topography of the field (e.g. upland or lowland), variety of rice, and previous season's yields. This data is inputted using the cell phone keypad.  Computer-based calculations are made by the Site Specific Nutrient Managment program at IRRI.  Data is then sent back within minutes to the farmers with advice concerning fertilizer amounts, timing and sourcing.

According to Roland Buresh, principal scientist at IRRI, the progam was developed to help farmers because " fertilizer use ... is the second largest expense in rice farming after labour, and proper application is critical in determining yield. ... Higher yields could earn farmers an extra $100 to $150 per hectare in each planting season."

If the program is successful, IRRI will consider expanding it to Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and possible to other countries in Africa.

For more see:  Adriano, Joel D. "Philippine precision farming gets a mobile upgrade," SciDev.Net, 21 July 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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