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Digital boost to crop production in the Philippines’ Marawi region

The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry is looking to further boost the digitalisation of their two Shared Service Facilities (SSF) – the fabrication laboratory and plant tissue culture laboratory in Marawi City. The project will be under the operation and supervision of the Mindanao State University Marawi (MSU) Campus. Conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur resulted in thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and families. Consequently, sources of livelihood of most farmers in Marawi and neighbouring Lanao areas were damaged. Among those affected were farmers and their families.

With the heightened interest in vegetable farming, the DTI, DA, and other government agencies hope that the IDPs will not be dependent anymore on the relief goods and financial assistance given by the administration and other organisations. Instead, they can now earn a living for their day-to-day needs using advanced technological equipment provided by the government and the private sector.

DTI Region 10 Director said the SSF project is part of the “Bangon” Marawi initiative to support the Marawi siege victims and will augment The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) joint rehabilitation programme for conflict-stricken Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

The fabrication laboratory aims to preserve the Maranao heritage and enhance its product designs and also seeks to improve the skills of the University’s faculty and students to help the community. The university as a whole will be familiarised with the creation of wealth, products and services using digital fabrication.

The plant tissue culture laboratory is looking to provide disease-free planting materials for abaca farmer cooperatives and individuals. It will also provide technical training in nursery management and production practices such as fertilisation, pest management and harvesting.

The equipment will remain under the ownership of DTI until the end of the agreement and until the cooperator has proven that they can sustainably manage and operate the facility per the objectives of the project. After two years of monitoring, DTI will then give full ownership to MSU.

This is not the first time that the Philippine government has taken advantage of digital technology for the region. As previously reported by OpenGov Asia, the government utilised digital means in extending financial assistance to families in the war-torn region of Marawi. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) then announced in a statement that it would release additional Livelihood Settlement Grants (LSGs) to households in less affected areas in Marawi city through a mobile application. To disburse these LSGs, the DSWD has partnered with a financial service provider. Under the agreement, the department will use the firm’s smartphone app to extend an additional PHP 10,000 worth of LSGs per family.

The Agricultural Training Institute in Central Luzon (ATI-CL) continues to train and provide farmers in Central Luzon with the capability to maximise the use of social media in marketing their crops and learning different smartphone Agri-applications.

Under the Rice Mechanisation Program of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), the Local Riding-Type Rice Transplanter was developed to make planting rice easier for the farmers. The machine uses a technology that enables farmers to transplant rice seedlings with high capacity and convenience of operation. It works as a 4-wheel drive ride-type transplanter that is easier to manoeuvre that can conveniently be driven even on muddy soil.

Meanwhile, a Philippine-based Agritech company also joined the cause to improve the agricultural landscape of the country by seeking sustainable cold chain equipment to help its network of farmers reduce food waste. They are working with smallholder farmers in rural areas to help streamline order processing, establish good handling practices and distribute their goods to businesses and consumers.

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