The University of the Philippines Institute of Biology and the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute marked the start of the construction of a nursery for indigenous and endemic plants through a groundbreaking ceremony at the UP DOST-ASTI Complex on March 2.
The soon-to-rise facility signifies the initial phase of a larger project which is the development of the Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE), a project of the UP Institute of Biology and Electronics Engineering Institute, with the support of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara revealed that “the nursery will be a standalone, smart farm.” Taking pride in that it is the first of its kind in the Philippines, Guevara added that “the project is a P128-million pioneering research, which will be a game changer–promoting urban farming and high technology plant conservation. Modern farming methods, such as vertical farming, micropropagation, cryopreservation, and hydrophonics, will be practiced in this nursery to grow native plants in an environment where 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 labor-intensive, backbreaking type of work, according to Guevara.
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.
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. (Stephanie S. Cabigao, UP MPRO)