MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Tuesday said a research team was sent to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija to evaluate the potential of its satellite technology in providing insights for the government’s proactive measures to manage inflation.

In a statement, NEDA said that during the study visit which was conducted last Aug. 14 to 16, it was discussed that the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM) can provide validated rice field data to their registered stakeholders every seventh day of the succeeding month compared to the quarterly Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.

“Currently, we utilize PSA data to inform our inflation policy, but in order to enhance our inflation analysis, we need to augment our data sources. This is particularly important in the case of rice, our staple, and amid volatile weather situations,” NEDA Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Staff officer in charge Assistant Director Rory Jay Dacumos said.

“We have also learned during the lectures and the field demonstration that the PRiSM data is reasonably accurate. So, we can see how this could enhance our policy recommendations on inflation,” he said.

PRiSM collects rice field data through satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensing, which is unaffected by cloud cover.

The data collected through the SAR has up to 95 percent overall accuracy vis-a-vis the ground validated data with the help of PRiSM data collectors in the field across the country using a mobile application to record and upload data more efficiently.

When the SAR images are insufficient, PRiSM can process secondary data, such as data collected using drones.

A satellite, Sentinel-1A, provides the SAR images used by PRiSM.

The next satellite, Sentinel-1C, is set to be launched within the year and has the potential to further augment PRiSM’s operations.

NEDA said the compiled data is presented in the form of rice area maps that indicate the locations where rice has been planted, the timing of rice planting, estimated rice yield, areas of rice affected by flooding due to heavy rains and tropical cyclones, and areas where rice cultivation has been impacted by drought.

“PRiSM is currently only applicable to rice, but according to PhilRice, the technology and methodology of PRiSM could also be adapted for monitoring other crops,” Dacumos said. (PNA)