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The Philippines breaks ground for the country’s first smart farm

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.

Credit: University of the Philippines

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.

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