Eduardo Ibanez Lee or Eddie to many of us, fondly clasps my hands with a broad smile and a firm fraternal handshake each time we meet. Eddie’s warm gesture is a reflection of his sincere character that goes beyond universal routine greetings. With eye contact in place, he begins our conversation about our families and friends. Thereafter, the intensity heightens as Eddie speaks out his mind on advocacies for society, and frames these within the context of our university training as agriculturists and to my interests as an academic.
He challenges the status quo about the sustainability of agriculture, and the realities that it offers to communities, families, individuals, and the future generation who depend on it for their living. Global agriculture is transcending towards “smart farming”. This term may have sounded as an idea or concept in the 1950s when Eddie was still a student. At present and for my generation, it may not even be considered as a panacea towards the realization of genuine growth and sustained progress in the countryside. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, in its family farming knowledge platform, presented that “smart farming” is “key for the future of agriculture”. It said that the adoption of digitization such as the “Internet of Things” or IoT technologies and solutions can result to increased levels of precision, automation, productivity, and overall efficiency in farm decision making. Maria Aleksandrova, in an online article, “IoT in Agriculture: Five Technology Uses for Smart Farming and Challenges to Consider” published in DZone last year, stated that the global smart agriculture market size is expected to triple by 2025 from about $5 billion in the year 2016 to around $15 billion in the next six years. The IoT applications that can be used in agriculture include greenhouse automation, precision farming in livestock and crop management, IoT devices and sensors with built-in analytical and business application features to support end-to-end farm management systems, and technologies that can map future climate conditions.
Despite these seemingly attractive prospects and IoT’s favorable attributes, Eddie was quick to appreciate that “smart farming” relies heavily on access to state-of-the-art information and communication (ICT) technologies and logistics. It is natural for him to inquire about the realities of getting “smart farming” implemented on the ground especially in rural societies where (1) decent levels of ICT technologies and related logistics infrastructure are either weak or barely in existence; and (2) the accompanying quality and affordable education that needs to be provided to the rural populace to capacitate them for IoT technology adoption. I shall continue to dwell on these and a host of other issues related to the future of “smart farming” (or Agriculture 4.0), and “smart education” (or Education 4.0) in the future —– bearing in mind Eddie’s penchant and inquisitiveness on the urgency of addressing societal concerns especially in agriculture.
Interestingly, his high school class photo remains on display along the hallowed hallway of De La Salle University in Manila. As a LaSallian, I would think that the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who served as his mentors in his formative years in school, taught him the true meaning and application of “religio, mores, cultura”. As Distinguished Awardees of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association as well as the Upsilon Sigma Phi, he was inspired by the ideals of freedom, and unselfish and honest service to the people.
Rudyard Kipling, the English Nobel laureate, wrote a poem in the early 1900s entitled, “Six Honest Serving Men”. The excerpt of which states,
“I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest”.
by Louie Divinigarcia