Planting and harvesting will soon be easier for local farmers, even in the face of climate change, with the advent of more reliable and technologically advanced weather forecasting methods.
These high-impact solutions come in the form of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) newly acquired supercomputer complemented with the latest weather modeling software.
This development was revealed by DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo during the recent Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
“The first significant development is that we already have a supercomputer which will be operational this fourth quarter of this year. With this type of facility, we will be able to use advanced weather modeling software that will not only enhance weather predictions from three days to six days, but it could also be more accurate, it could be area specific, and what we are working on is to have a seasonal weather outlook on specific areas for three to six months to help our farmers,” said Secretary Montejo.
The three- to six-month weather projections, to be issued by DOST’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Service Administration (DOST-PAGASA), will be on top of its weekly weather forecasts. This will provide farmers with information on the amount of rainfall on specific areas within the next three to six months.
Also, these top-flight technologies will enable PAGASA weather scientists to come up with integrated weather pattern information specifically to guide farmers on the best time to plant and harvest crops, thus greatly aiding them with their farming-related decisions and activities.
These groundbreaking developments, said Sec. Montejo, will take off by 2014 with the supercomputer’s initial operation on the fourth quarter of 2013.
Agricultural losses caused by climate change
Erratic weather conditions, an after-effect of global climate change, have affected many farmers resulting in billions worth of damaged agricultural products annually.
In 2012 alone, an estimated total of Php30 billion worth of agricultural products were lost in the aftermath of Typhoon Bopha (Pablo). The Department of Agriculture reported that an estimated Php197 million worth of rice crops were damaged due to the typhoon.
Rice, a staple food in the country, is normally grown for three to six months depending on the rice variety, and requires an average of 2,000 liters of water per kilo of rice for its growth.
The Philippines ranks 8th among the world’s rice producers. In 2007, the country produced an average of 3.8 tons per hectare of rice, more than what Thailand produces.
Department of Science and Technology Secretary (DOST) Mario G. Montejo (middle) describes to veteran columnist Neal Cruz (right) how DOST can help farmers mitigate agricultural losses during monsoon season at the recent Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel in Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Sec. Montejo explained that DOST-PAGASA is continuously enhancing its weather forecasting capabilities by providing a three- to six-month coverage period for weather projection and weather pattern information dissemination on specific areas of the country. Also in photo is DOST-PAGASA Officer-In-Charge Vicente Malano. (Photo by Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, STII)