Research can lead to reforms
Effective technology transfer can help ensure that agriculture research will result in real reforms in rural areas.
There are two government bodies that can make effective technology transfer happen. These are the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).
Established in 1972, PCAARRD’s mission is “to provide central direction in science and technology (S&T)-led production of globally-competitive agriculture and forestry products and protection of biodiversity and the environment.”
Established in 1987, BAR’s mission is “to attain food security and reduce poverty through a technology-based agriculture and fisheries sector.”
BAR’s specific mandate is “to ensure that all agricultural research is coordinated and undertaken for maximum utility to agriculture.”
PCAARRD’s mandate has four components: “formulates plans, strategies, policies and programs for S&T development; programs and allocates government external funds for R&D; monitors and evaluates R&D programs and projects; and generates external funds for R&D.”
The mandates of both agencies do not explicitly include technology transfer as part of their mandates. They should both take the following four steps to make this transfer effective:
1) The research priorities should mostly be determined by the targeted beneficiaries: the farmers and fisherfolk themselves. They should be consulted extensively on what technologies they need to compete effectively, especially with the coming Asean integration.
2) The research should be done with the end-view of producing affordable and easily applicable technologies to ensure wide application and implementation.
3) There should be an effective and extensive program for technology transfer. This is a major problem. Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan copy our technologies and implement them extensively while we are left behind with the old technologies.
4) There should also be a systematic monitoring of this technology transfer, especially in areas where the poor are. This should be followed up with recommendations for technology transfer improvement that should be immediately carried out.
In October or November this year, PCAARRD will inaugurate the PCAARRD Innovation and Technology Center (PITC). It will be in full operation in January next year. This is a welcome development. It will concentrate on the research becoming a reality in actual field implementation.
It will have four divisions. The first is “technology transfer”, where PITC will assist the technology providers with technical expertise in facilitating the practical use of their technologies. The second is an “electronic library”, where the best technologies can easily be accessed from anywhere in the country. The third is “technology and business hubs” in the different regions, where poor farmers and fisherfolk can have easy access. The fourth is a “main exhibition hub”, where the most promising technologies can be seen and demonstrated in a central location.
As PCAARRD puts more emphasis on technology transfer, BAR should fulfill its mandate to ensure that “all agricultural research is coordinated and undertaken for maximum utility for agriculture.”
As we approach the end of the current administration’s term, a Memorandum of Agreement between BAR and PCAARRD should be formulated to maximize the potential synergy between these two bodies.
This can be an important legacy so that agricultural research will actually result in real rural reform that the new government can use in its own pursuit of inclusive growth.
(The author is chair of Agriwatch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail email@example.com or telefax 8522112.)