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Using Digitalisation for Smart Agriculture in the Philippines

Smart agriculture is a leading innovation that is gaining popularity all over the world. It is used to improve production, deal with farm-related problems like food demand, and make farms more connected and smarter. Smart agriculture uses a range of Internet of Things (IoT) based applications like precision farming, variable rate technology, smart irrigation, and smart greenhouses.

One part of smart agriculture is the smart greenhouse, which is a big step forward in farming technology. It uses sensor technology to create a microclimate that helps plants grow in the same way every time. A smart greenhouse automatically changes the environment to help plants grow the best they can.

This new way of farming gives farmers a high yield and better-quality crops, and it also lets them grow crops consistently all year long. This meets the market’s need for food efficiency and sufficiency.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) visited the first constructed smart greenhouse project between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea to encourage the extensive implementation of smart agriculture in the nation.

The first smart greenhouse in the country was built in 2018 at the Bureau of Plant Industry – Baguio National Crop Research Development and Production Support Center (BPI-BNCRDPSC). It is part of a project called “Enhancing Productivity and Producing High-Quality Tomato through Smart Greenhouse in the Philippines.”

The Republic of Korea sponsored the Philippines for this project through the Department of Agriculture (DA). Since 2019, the project has been run by both the BPI-BNCRDPSC and the DA-Cordillera Administrative Region – Regional Field Office (DA-CAR RFO).

The goal of the smart greenhouse project is to make small and medium-sized farmers’ products more competitive by putting in place greenhouse technology for high-value-added agricultural products and to increase farmers’ incomes by improving distribution channels in the Philippines related to co-branding and local shipping.

The smart greenhouse is made up of eight connected greenhouses that will be used to teach and promote Korean technology, and one standard greenhouse that will be used for research and development. All the smart greenhouse’s parts came from Korea, and an automated system controls the conditions inside to help plants grow the best they can.

The local electric cooperative and a backup source of renewable energy using solar panels provide power for the smart greenhouse, respectively. Cherry tomatoes are grown in the intelligent greenhouse by being planted in cocopeat bags with drip watering systems, in a soilless medium. Every six months, on average, fifteen (15) metric tonnes of tomatoes are gathered.

Furthermore, since pepper and cucumber growing requires the same irrigation and fertiliser as cherry tomato cultivation does, BNCRDPSC also experimented with those crops. Thus, the smart greenhouse’s features still need to be properly optimised. Currently in the development of automation through mobile applications, which will allow users to see and control indoor conditions from anywhere at any time.

The provision of technical help to maximise the use of the project’s control system is the focus of DA-engagement BAFE’s with BNCRDPSC in the effort to embrace smart agriculture. Moreover, the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture cited that digital technologies, innovations, and data analytics will be utilised throughout the food value chain and logistics, beginning with the efficient distribution of inputs to farmers registered with the Registry System for Basic Sectors of Agriculture (RSBSA).

The automated technology will increase farm output and reduce waste by facilitating data-driven farming methods for small farmers using analytics. Crop production will be monitored using digital databases to increase the digitisation of farming and agribusiness activities in the country and pave the path for “Agriculture 4.0”.

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