NEDA explores remote-sensing tech of UPLB to foster inclusive policy advice

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) learned about a remote-sensing technology developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). This technology can be utilized at the community level to gather data that can be used in formulating proactive policy recommendations.

Project SARAI, or the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, implements a near real-time monitoring of production areas using remotely-sensed images.

“During the SARAI technology orientation, one distinct advantage is that it can be deployed at the community level, allowing agriculturists and farmers to easily apply it themselves,” said OIC-Assistant Director Rory Jay S.C. Dacumos of the NEDA Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff (ANRES).

Project SARAI aims to collect crop production data through crowdsourcing using their mobile application, Bantay SARAI. It serves as a tool for farmers to report their crop planting date, expected harvest date, anticipated yield, and damages.

“In addition to SARAI’s unique community-level deployment capability, its most significant feature is the cost-free capture of satellite images through the Google Earth Engine. These images are then plotted in the Quantum Geographic Information System (QGIS) at no additional cost,” Dacumos explained.

Project SARAI provides crop advisories for nine commodities, namely rice, corn, banana, coconut, coffee, cacao, sugarcane, soybean, and tomato. The advisories focus on integrating local weather data and drought forecasts with farm management activities, specifically nutrient and water management, as well as proactive pest and disease monitoring.

“We thank the UPLB-SARAI team, led by Dr. Victoria Maria Espaldon, for their assistance in providing valuable information to NEDA. This information will be used to craft anticipatory policy recommendations for managing food inflation,” said Dacumos.

The satellite-based monitoring systems currently being assessed by NEDA-ANRES are intended to serve as decision-support tools for the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook, chaired by NEDA. The committee is responsible for providing timely advice to the government on managing inflation.