Philippines: Technology assures Leyte lettuce growers of good harvest

A group of farmers here is reaping the benefits of modern farming using an intelligent green box, ensuring quality harvest of high-value crops regardless of the season.

Through indoor farming, the 32-member La Granja Farmers and Agriventures Association has been harvesting at least 180 kilograms of fresh lettuce weekly for the requirement of high-end restaurants in this city and some parts of Samar.

“We are assured of continuous supply whatever comes. I am giving our buyers safe, clean, and nutritious food. This is a very good technology,” said Martina Reyna, farmer owner of La Granja based in Diit village here, on Thursday.

Dubbed the Intelligent Green Box (IGB), it is a vertical farming method of cultivating plants stacked upwards, within used container vans, taking less space than traditional farming. Since this method takes up fewer resources such as water and land, it then becomes a feasible solution for smart cities, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“In terms of quality, there’s a lot of improvement since the temperature, humidity, and lights are controlled,” Reyna told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) during the farm visit of key DOST officials.

Achieving food security
“We expect that this technology will help Eastern Visayas achieve food security despite the fact that the region faces the brunt of strong storms every year,” DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the technology will encourage the young generation to pursue modern farming. “We need to make this technology available for our young generation to appreciate it. This will surely address poverty and improve the health condition of our children,” Petilla said.

The 20-footer container van has been cultivating 860 lettuce plants since it was set up last September 2021 in partnership with the DOST, Leyte provincial government, Eastern Visayas State University, and the farmers’ group.

“In the past, our lettuce plants were exposed to extreme heat and pests. The quality was not that good, and the value was only PHP200 per kilogram. With indoor farming, we can now sell our lettuce at PHP400 per kilogram,” Reyna added.

Pilot provinces
The IGB technology optimizes indoor farming practices suited to the conditions of the region and allows the growing of high-value crops in a climate-controlled environment.

The project is part of DOST’s iSTART (Innovation, Science, and Technology Accelerating Regional Technology-Based Development) program where local government units are assisted in developing a technology-based development plan for agri-based, manufacturing, and services sectors. Leyte is one of the pilot provinces in this undertaking.

Through iSTART, DOST will attract Metro Manila residents and other highly urbanized areas to return to their provinces of origin or invest in new enterprises and other science and technology undertakings. 


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