Drones to wa­ter Benguet farms

Sun.Star Baguio - - FRONT PAGE - Maria Elena Cata­jan Sun*Star Reporter

DRONES may soon wa­ter our fields.

Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture Manny Piñol dur­ing his visit last week an­nounced aerial spray­ing us­ing drones will be pi­loted in Benguet.

Piñol said the Ja­panese man­u­fac­tured and op­er­ated drones can ir­ri­gate 1 hectare of farm­land in 10 min­utes, mak­ing the task eas­ier and ideal for the ter­raced farms in the re­gion.

“This is ideal for the Cordilleras and its ter­races,” added Piñol.

The Sec­re­tary said the sprayer will make it eas­ier for farmer to spray fields lo­cated in the most treach­er­ous of moun­tain­sides.

Last week, Pi­nol pre­sented to Benguet Gov­er­nor Cres­cen­cio Pa­calso P7.5 mil­lion worth of aerial spray­ing for a 5,000 hectare area, ex­plain­ing a drone ses­sion costs P1,500.

Piñol said the DA will shoul­der the en­tire cost of the pi­lot drone spray ses­sions for the prov­ince iden­ti­fied veg­etable farms but the next ses­sion will be shoul­dered by the farm­ers us­ing the agency’s Pro­duc­tion Loan Easy Ac­cess (PLEA) pro­gram.

Drone spray­ing will be pushed by the DA de­spite the dif­fi­culty of lo­cal farm­ers to ac­cept innovation.

“It is in the mind­set of farm­ers to shun tech­nol­ogy, a nat­u­ral re­sis­tance of farm­ers,” said Piñol.

Last year, the Ja­panese group had a meet­ing with the Fer­til­izer and Pes­ti­cides Au­thor­ity (FPA), the Bureau of Plant In­dus­try (BPI) along with the DA to iden­tify ar­eas in Benguet which grows veg­eta­bles in ter­races as the pi­lot site for the use of the drone sprayer.

Piñol said drones will not be pur­chased by the DA say­ing the deal will be for the Ja­panese com­pany to be­come a ser­vice provider in the coun­try for the aerial project.

The DA of­fi­cial cited a drone can cost P1 mil­lion unit which can be a hin­drance in procur­ing as well as the cost of main­te­nance, oper­a­tion and in­sur­ance.

Photo by Her­man Da­nis/DA-CAR Re­gional Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Sec­tion

Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol leads the ac­tual drone spray­ing test in a straw­berry farm in La Trinidad, Benguet. A hectare of farm­land can be sprayed with a liter of fer­til­izer in 10 min­utes, at P1,500.

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