Farmers to benefit from SARAI Phase 2 program

Farmers are expected to benefit from the integrated crop monitoring and forecasting system, which will be institutionalized at the national, regional, and community levels. This means that the needed site-specific crop advisories will reach them at the right time.  

Sample advisories such as planting dates, early warning for pest and disease infestation, water management strategies for specific areas, and daily weather condition notifications are significant information that will help farmers decide for the best management option suitable to their farm conditions. 

To realize this, the program “Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry (SARAI) in the Philippines-Phase 2” will continue to develop, implement, and deploy science-based crops and cropping system technologies, protocols, and long-term strategies geared towards maximizing yields and minimizing adverse environmental and climate impacts. 

This is the essence of the signing of Agreement recently held among the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and selected State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the Philippines. 

Initiatives under the SARAI Program Phase 2

SARAI Program Phase 2 will be provided with a 221 million budget from DOST-PCAARRD. At the signing ceremony, PCAARRD Acting Executive Director, Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora emphasized “value for money.” With the big amount for SARAI-Phase 2s research and development (R&D) activities, big returns is likewise expected. 

“I hope all of us will be committed to deliver what we have promised and that we would vigorously disseminate technologies that will be generated by the program,” Ebora said.

UPLB Program Leader, Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon reported that SARAI-Phase 2 has 15 project components classified under three subprograms: 1) Crop characterization, integrated crop management, and model development; 2) crop-environment monitoring and forecasting; and 3) SARAI mainstreaming.

Espaldon said that Phase 2 will focus on the refinement, field testing, expansion, and deployment of technologies developed in Phase 1. These technologies are: SARAI-Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (SEAMS); Water Balanced-Assisted Irrigation Decision Support System (WAISS) and Cost-efficient Soil Moisture Monitoring System for Water Deficit; SARAI knowledge portal; and other mobile and web-based applications, which include among others the Smarter Pest Identification technology and the Maize Nutrient Expert System.

Phase 2 will take off from these major outputs. It will expand its scope by covering additional crops such as sugarcane, soybean, and tomato. The crops previously covered included rice, corn, coconut, coffee, cacao, and banana. Phase 2 will also include capacity building and a systematic communication and information dissemination campaign to ensure that products reach the intended users.

An important highlight of Phase 2 is the implementation of SEAMS at the community level (CL-SEAMS). This was explained by Prof. Moises A. Dorado, UPLB Professor and Project Leader for SARAI’s component project on “Community Level SEAMS and Dissemination of Crop Advisories.” CL-SEAMS will incorporate indigenous knowledge of farmers. Its capabilities and outputs will be more attuned to the specific needs of the farming communities.

Partners’ expression of support

“Much is given, much is required.” This was emphasized by former director of PCAARRD’s Agricultural Resources Management Research Division, Rodolfo O. Ilao who now serves 

as PCAARRD S&T Consultant for the SARAI Program. His message to program implementers, among others, include visibility of the program, enhancing linkage with appropriate projects and agencies, importance of the project’s linkage with one another as a system; and deployment at various stages.

UPLB Chancellor Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. committed to fully monitor the Program to ensure that outputs are delivered as expected. 

“Continued partnership is very important and we will continue to partner with other agencies. With the help of our partners in this project, we can deliver the outputs. Together, we will not fail the nation,” Chancellor Sanchez said.

On behalf of presidents and representatives of SUCs, Dr. William C. Medrano, President of Isabela State University, expressed full support to PCAARRD and UPLB. “We have to deliver. DOST is expecting that Juan and Juana will really feel the impact of science and technology in their lives. We have to give back the outputs, especially that which will create impact to our users. There should be no room for failure for SARAI. Not ‘Aray,’ but SARAI,” quipped Medrano.

SARAI-Phase 2 will be implemented in partnership with University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), Isabela State University (ISU), Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), Western Philippines University (WPU), Bicol University (BU), West Visayas State University (WVSU), Cebu Technological University (CTU), Central Mindanao University (CMU), University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP), University of Southern Mindanao (USM), and Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).