The U.S. Government in partnership with IBM and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines conducted a workshop on an innovation that will help corn farmers increase their harvest. The Farmer Decision Support System (FDSS) will integrate crop models with climate and weather forecasts, and transform scientific data into SMS-based advisories that will help farmers make better decisions from planting to harvesting.
Gathering more than 100 participants, the workshop increased the awareness of farmers and agricultural technicians in Isabela province to the impacts of climate change and El Niño and explained how the FDSS will work and benefit farmers.
“We hope to make farming practices efficient and more resilient to the changing climate,” said Engr. Edgardo Tongson, Program Director of the Abuan Integrated Watershed Management Program (AIWMP), a grant project implemented by the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together with WWF-Philippines. “By integrating information from our key partners and by leveraging Analytics and Mobile technologies of IBM, farmers can access information and use cutting-edge tools to maximize field potential.”
Under the program’s Smarter Agriculture component, the FDSS is being developed in partnership with IBM, the Isabela State University (ISU), and University of the Philippines – Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM). Using its Analytics or data analysis tools, IBM leads the development of the FDSS and builds a data storage for information on rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind speed, soil moisture, and crop yields generated by a network of sensors in Isabela. ISU, UP-IESM, and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) serve as sources of agricultural studies and weather and climate forecasts that feed into the FDSS’s crop modelling tool.
Once in place, the FDSS will provide users with location-specific advisories on the best time to plant and harvest crops and the right amount of water to irrigate and fertilizer to apply in their farms. Farmers will access information through text messages via the Smart Agri SMS service, while agricultural technicians can access via the Smarter Agriculture website.
In his message, Luis Pineda, IBM Philippines President & Country General Manager, emphasized the value of technology as an enabler of change. “The emergence of data science through analytics and the accessibility of mobile information has tremendous benefits and will change the way we do things,” says Luis Pineda, IBM Philippines President & Country General Manager. “By bringing modern business solutions and technologies to farmers, we are being given the chance to revolutionize agriculture.”
Smarter Agriculture was partially made possible through the IBM Impact Grant of Services which provides consulting expertise and software designed to support educational and not-for-profit organizations in their efforts to serve communities.
AIWMP is a five-year project that works to enhance the resilience of farming communities in the Abuan Watershed to climate change impacts through increased use of climate data in agricultural practices.