• GIS skills of PH agri field officers sharpened

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    THE Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) project is conducting a series of workshops on basic geographic information systems (GIS) for its regional partners. Funded by the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA), the activity trains field officers and local government units in visualizing rice area and yield, GPS-based field observations, and other data generated by PRISM for planning programs and interventions for the country’s rice sector.

    The PRISM project aims to develop a monitoring and information system for rice production in the Philippines. PRISM’s main purpose is to gather and organize information on rice area, yield, yield gaps and the causes of these yield gaps, and to provide this information to key stakeholders for policy support. PRISM relies on data from remote sensing, crop models, in-field crop surveys, and other fieldwork to deliver actionable information on rice crop seasonality; area; yield; damage from flood, wind, or drought; and yield-reducing factors, such as diseases, animal pests, and weeds. PRISM is a 4-year R&D collaboration between the DA, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and sarmap, a Swiss developer of satellite and remote sensing mapping software.

    The training is enhancing the skills of DA-Regional Field Offices and local government units (LGU) staff in using QGIS, a free and open source GIS software. The workshop uses actual data collected at PRISM monitoring sites throughout the country.

    At the end of each season, PRISM generates accurate and timely information on rice areas, the start of cropping seasons, and rice yield that can help the national government and the rice-growing regions develop policies and plans related to rice production, particularly in mitigating the impacts of natural calamities and reducing yield losses caused by pests. Around 19 tropical cyclones or storms enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility every year, and of these, usually 6 to 9 make landfall causing considerable crop damage. The information collected by PRISM is available through its portal.

    The training helps in understanding the value of presenting data in map format, according to a workshop participant.

    “The training is useful in data processing and analysis,” added another enthusiastic participant. “The information generated will serve as the basis for decision-making, evaluation, and development of rice projects.”

    The Basic GIS Training was begun in July for DA representatives from various parts of the country, and continues until October.

    The workshops are being conducted by PRISM staff from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and PhilRice.

    INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE

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