AN agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will shell out P128 million to establish a farm in Quezon City, a very highly urbanized city.
The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) will call it “smart farm,” a first project of the DOST in the whole country under the leadership of Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.
De La Peña, an old-timer in the DOST, has been looking forward to realize the P128-million DOST-PCIEERD due to its enormous benefits to the country in terms of improved technology in farming.
In a news statement, the DOST said the “smart farm is a facility [intended] for the Smart Plant Production In Controlled Environments [SPICE]” program of the department.
The DOST said the multimillion-peso project “will promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation.”
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 DOST pointed out.
The smart farm will be housed at the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute’s Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants in Quezon City.
Those that will assist the DOST in developing the SPICE program are the University of the Philippines-Diliman Institute of Biology, Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute, and the UP-Los Baños Institute of Biology.
The purpose of SPICE is to lead the research and development activities 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.
DOST Undersecretary for research and development Rowena Cristina Guevara said, “[T]he 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.”
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, Guevarra noted.
UP Executive Vice President Dr. Teodoro Herbosa said the “SPICE [project] is an innovative project.Thus, it should be exported to other countries because the idea of internationalization is exporting our own ideas [so] that foreign scientists will come to [our] country to study trees that are endemic here.”
National Scientist and UP Professor Emeritus Dr. Edgardo Gomez commended the DOST for initiating the project, where he said “[SPICE] will be a world-class institute.”