Diokno eyes satellite tech to fight inflation

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2023 09:20 PM

MANILA - Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday is eyeing satellite mapping to help the Philippines fight inflation. 

“We want to introduce science into decision making and that’s what we’re going to do,” Diokno said in a Department of Finance statement.

Diokno said part of the government’s plan is to improve the monitoring of agricultural production using Earth Observation Technologies, to supplement data collected by the Department of Agriculture and Philippine Statistics Authority on prices.

“That is the same technology we will tap to monitor for example, from planting. In fact from preparation. Because before you can plant, you have to prepare the field. So from preparation of the field, planting, maturity, to harvest,” Diokno said. 

He said the Inter-agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook, the ad hoc body created to fight inflation, intends to give President Ferdinand Marcos Jr regular reports on info gathered by the satellite. 

“You can really plot every two weeks. In fact we intend to give the President periodic information about this. Nakita namin ang frequency, two weeks. Dadaan ang satellite every two weeks. It is possible to give the President a monthly report, even more often, as needed.”

The project dubbed as the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM) will use satellite data, crop growth simulation models, and information technology to provide timely information on rice area. It will also give start of season maps or planting dates, yield estimates, mid-season forecast, and end of season yields, and extent of area affected by flood or drought, the DOF said. 
Another project dubbed as Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry (SARAI) in the Philippines will give site-specific advisories to mitigate climate risks.
“Project SARAI provides in-season crop forecasts and yield estimates; assessment of droughts and availability of rainfall; and crop advisories on how to maximize crop growth while addressing potential pest or disease problems,” the DOF said.
“Finally, the Data Analytics Technologies and Operation Services for Space Data (DATOS) project developed by the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) uses remote sensing, space technology, and data science applications to support critical activities on disaster mitigation, analysis, and advice.”

Two years ago, the Department of Science and Technology said it aimed to have a new Earth Observation satellite in space by 2023.  

In 2018, when Diokno was head of the Department of Budget and Management as secretary, he launched a project that would use drones, LIDAR and satellites to monitor the completion of government projects. 

Inflation hit a 14-year high of 8.7 percent in January, and slightly eased to 8.6 percent in February. High food prices have been blamed for keeping inflation elevated in the past several months. 

Inflation in March likely settled within the 7.4 to 8.2 percent range, the BSP said last week.

Official inflation figures are set to be released on Wednesday, April 5. 

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