William Dar, the former Agriculture secretary, said that with scientific interventions, the country’s farming sector would be able to increase yields and farmers could venture into value-addition, or the production of finished or semi-processed products for export.
Citing figures from the UN Trade Map, Dar, in one of his columns in The Manila Times, said the country was still a net food importer as it exported $5.7 billion worth of farm and food products in 2016 and imported $11 billion, for a deficit of $5.9 billion.
In comparison, Thailand exported $42.2 billion in farm products in 2016 and bought from abroad $15.7 billion for a surplus of $26.5 billion; Indonesia, $36.5 billion in farm exports and $17.9 billion in agricultural imports for a surplus of $18.6 billion; Malaysia, $26.7 billion in farm exports and $17.4 billion in agricultural imports for a surplus of $9.3 billion; and Vietnam, $23.1 billion in farm exports and $14.5 billion in agricultural imports for a surplus of $8.6 billion.
Dar blamed the inadequate number of Filipino scientists for the country’s being a laggard in farm exports compared with its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Citing Unesco recommendations, he said the Philippines had a very low researcher/scientist ratio per million of people. The agency recommends 380 scientists/researchers per million population, but the Philippines only has 189 researchers/scientists per million.
This means the country needs at least 19,000 more scientists.
Dar said countries that are industrialized exceed the Unesco recommendation: Israel has 8,300 researchers/scientists per million population, South Korea has 6,900, Singapore 6,700, Malaysia 2,100, and Thailand, 974.
Chief astronomer Dario de la Cruz of the state-run Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) told The Manila Times that some government-funded scientific facilities needed a “revamp” or relocation to perform more efficiently.
“Ang observatory pa nga lang natin, hindi na ideal site ito for astronomy dahil sobrang luma na [Even our observatory is not an ideal site for astronomical activities anymore because of its old and worn out facilities],” said de la Cruz.
Pagasa’s astronomical observatory, which recently invited more than a thousand sky watchers for the rare “super blue blood moon event” at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, has been standing on the site in Quezon City since 1954.
-Written by Mary Gleefer Jalea in The Manila Times with report from Conrad Cariño. See original link here.