PH needs 19,000 more scientists, researchers

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.