To modernize agriculture, the Philippines and South Korea jointly launched Friday, March 8, the first automated greenhouse in the country through the ceremonial harvesting of high quality tomatoes.
The Smart Greenhouse Philippines Project, established with the assistance of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and Korea Agency of Education, Promotion and Information Service (Epis), is located within the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) compound in Baguio City.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the project, which is the first of its kind in the country, seeks to increase farmers’ income and enhance competitiveness of small and mid-sized farmers through the use of greenhouse technology.
"We are seeing the transformation of Philippine agriculture into smart agriculture," said Piñol during the launching activity.
Inside the compound are the nine greenhouses with a total area of 3,300 square meters. Eight will be used for farmers education and training while one greenhouse is intended for research and development.
Farmer trainees revealed that four channels inside the greenhouse can produce 1,000 kilograms of tomatoes per week. One channel is comprised of 840 plants.
"Today we are starting with what we call smart agriculture. This greenhouse is fully automated. You can operate this by using a cellphone," he added. "We have to understand that our population is growing, and a time would come when our land resources and our water resources may not be able to feed our population. That is why technology like this are important because we have to produce more food in smaller areas."
The project was established using a P122.29-million grant by South Korea through Koica, Epis, Info Valley Korea Co. Ltd and Shinhan A-Tec Co. Limited.
The project is jointly implemented by the BPI-Baguio National Crop Research Development and Production Support Center (BPI-NCRDPSC) and the Department of Agriculture regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR).
It started with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement in July 2018 and will run until December 2021.
Piñol asked for the help of the South Korean Government for the establishment of five more modern greenhouses in the provinces of Rizal, Pampanga and a former rebel area in Paquibato district in Davao.
On the same day, a ceremonial signing of marketing agreement was reached between buyers and producers, including four participating organizations.
Benguet Governor Crescencio Pacalso pledged to do his best for the success of the project.
Pacalso assured the secretary and the Korean government that they will ensure that farmer trainees would be available.
"We will make sure that this project become top performing project according to DA standard," Pacalso added.
Lee Sangback, deputy country director of Koica Philippines, said the project is equipped with state of the art Korean technology.
"Through this project this tomato will be two times (its) market value and three times production volume, and five times partnership between Korea and Philippines," he said.
Photo credit: MannyPiñol