A groundbreaking ceremony for the soon-to-rise Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) program took place at the University of the Philippines Department of Science and Technology – Advanced Science and Technology Institute (UP DOST-ASTI) Complex last March 2, 2019. The UP DOST-ASTI Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants will house the facility for the Php128M program that is funded by the Innovation Council of DOST-PCIEERD.
The SPICE Program will be the model farm that will pioneer the promotion and advancement of an urban farm system and establish protocols for micropropagation, cryopreservation, and nursery management of rare, endangered, and economically valuable native plant species. The UP Diliman Institute of Biology and Electrical and Electronics Engineering and UP Los Baños Institute of Biology will team up to develop the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology for the project. With the new CEA technology, the lighting, temperature, humidity, nutrients, and other factors that a plant needs can now be monitored, controlled, and changed real-time depending on the need of the plant.
Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara pointed out in her message during an interview that this project is not only for the development of new technology but for the protection of the Philippines’ rich biodiversity. On the agricultural perspective, the data from the smart farm will help the farmers to improve their farming methods adopting the ways that will increase good harvest and decrease loss in production especially during times of unpredictable climatic conditions and calamity. This will be a great help for the improvement of climate-smart practices including the adoption of modern technology and crop and soil management. With adequate support or the sustainable agriculture movement, this can transform the agricultural sector of the Philippines from an agricultural importer to a net exporter.
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