02 March 2018 – The UP Diliman Institute of Biology (IB) and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI), and UP Los Baños Institute of Biology team up to introduce the country’s first Smart Farm that will be built at the DOST-ASTI Complex, Quezon City.
The Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants will house the facility for the Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE), a 128M program funded by the Innovation Council, DOST-PCIEERD, which aims to promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation.
This program aims to lead the research and development (R&D) 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.
“The core of this project is not only the development of new technology, but, on a macro perspective, to ensure that we can protect our country’s rich biodiversity,” DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara mentioned in her message.
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.
“My idea of internationalization is exporting our own ideas…’yung scientists ng ibang bansa ang pupunta dito para aralin ang endemic trees natin. SPICE is an innovation project,” remarked Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, UP Executive Vice President.
National Scientist and UP Professor Emeritus, Dr. Edgardo Gomez shared his experiences in Biology and commended the team for initiating the project, saying that “This (SPICE) will be a world-class institute.”
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.