The Department of Agriculture (DA) urged local banana growers to employ unmanned aerial technology or drones to address health concerns and steep disapproval by several members of the Congress.
In an interview, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that he expects to meet this month with members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) to discuss possible application of drone technology in their aerial spraying.
“Even if they say that they are using organic ingredients, the main concern of the lawmakers is the ‘excessive’ amount of chemicals being dumped during overhead spraying, which may allegedly cause respiratory illnesses,” Alcala said.
The DA chief explained that aerial drones are more accurate than the traditional manned aircrafts since it can hover as close as two meters from the ground, lessening the amount of chemicals being dumped during flyover fumigation programs.
“The technology is readily available and is cheaper. It just a matter of adapting what is better for our industry,” the official said.
Earlier, local banana industry lobby PBGEA expressed opposition to a bill aiming to ban aerial spraying over banana plantations and other agricultural farms, stressing that overhead chemical application relies on scientific research and development and advanced technologies.
Under consideration by the Congressional Committee on Ecology chaired by Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing (5th District, Manila) is House Bill No. 3857 entitled ‘An Act prohibiting aerial spraying as a method of applying chemicals and similar substances on agricultural crops.’