The Philippines breaks ground for the country’s first smart farm
According to an announcement made by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) is funding the country’s first smart farm.
The smart farm is a facility for the Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE), a P128-million pioneering research program that will promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation. Teaming up to develop the SPICE are two institutes from the University of the Philippines (UP): Diliman Institute of Biology and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute and Los Baños Institute of Biology.
“The core of this project is not only the development of new technology, but also, on a macro perspective, to ensure that we can protect our country’s rich biodiversity,” said DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr Rowena Cristina Guevara.
This program aims to lead the research and development for the design of a stand-alone urban farm system and establish protocols for micropropagation, cryopreservation, and nursery management of rare, endangered, and economically valuable native plant species.
Modern farming methods like vertical farming, micropropagation, cryopreservation, and hydroponics will be practiced to grow native plants in an environment wherein the climate, the lighting, and the irrigation system can be monitored, controlled, and changed real-time through the use of electronics, sensors, and automation.
In turn, such technology will yield efficient crop production and also take away the image of farming as a labour-intensive, backbreaking type of work.
According to the press release by the University, College of Science Dean Ong stressed the importance of the nursery as it will ensure the protection of the country’s rich biodiversity. Meanwhile, Executive Vice President Herbosa also underscored the valuable effort of the project and its role in knowledge sharing and expertise promotion.
Aside from the technical features of the project, the facility is envisioned to include a “living laboratory” where visitors can see the various technologies employed and store where they can buy fresh vegetables grown on-site.
The smart farm will be housed at the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute’s Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants in Quezon City.
Also present in the ceremony were: National Scientist and Professor Emeritus Edgardo D. Gomez; Executive Vice President Teodoro J. Herbosa; College of Science Dean Perry S. Ong; Institute of Biology Director Ernelea P. Cao; Deputy Director for Research and Extension of the Institute of Biology Jonathan A. Anticamara; Project leader and Institute of Biology Assistant Professor Dr. Jessica D. Rey; and Office of the Campus Architect Director Enrico B. Tabafunda.