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Smart Farming in PH : R&D, Food chains

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Smart Farming in PH : R&D, Food chains

Maybe its time to "make farming COOL in PH" ?

New smart farm to help the Philippines achieve sustainable agriculture goals

The Philippines is making efforts to modernise and strengthen its agriculture sector, with both the state and private companies promoting the adoption of advanced technology and smart farming methods to increase harvests and minimise losses.


In early April officials broke ground on the country’s first state-funded smart farm, part of the P128m ($2.5m) Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) programme, designed to develop and promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation.

Located at the Department of Science and Technology’s nursery of indigenous and endemic plants in Quezon City, and operated in coordination with the University of Philippines Diliman and the University of Philippines Los Baños, the facility will serve as a greenhouse for new technology and modern farming methods.

According to officials, techniques such as vertical farming, micropropagation, cryopreservation and hydroponics will be practised, with the aim of developing technology to boost crop production and reduce the need for manual labour.

The SPICE project is part of a wider drive to reform and modernise the sector through the introduction of new techniques and the wider application of technology, a policy direction of increasing importance as the country’s population expands and the issue of food security becomes more pressing.

The Philippines has been identified as one of the countries most at risk from climate change, with the Global Climate Risk Index 2018, released by Bonn-based NGO Germanwatch, ranking the country as the fifth most affected by changing weather patterns over the past 20 years.

Among the changes in climatic conditions has been the more frequent occurrence of El Niño weather cycles, often characterised by lower rainfalls and higher temperatures, threatening crop outputs. The last major El Niño event, in 2015 and 2016, reduced harvest yields by 4.5% and cut returns along the food production and processing chain.

Training programmes to boost sustainable farming goals

To support new smart farm initiatives and help reduce the impact of climate change, both government agencies and the private sector have been working with farmers to improve their understanding of sustainable farming practices.

. . . “Agriculture technology exists in the country, but farmers must be better educated on how to use it and informed of the benefits,” he told OBG. “Machines are generally viewed as too expensive for farmers to acquire, even though they would increase harvest efficiency significantly.”

In addition, the Philippine subsidiary of multinational agricultural firm Monsanto launched a smart farm initiative in February to provide training to corn growers.

The nationwide programme will see farmers learn about how new technologies can improve corn planting and cultivation, including the use of high-yield and disease-resistant strains of corn. Taking place at 16 smart farm centres across the country, the programme aims to reach 20,000 growers in its first year.

On top of efforts to increase yields and returns, the focus on sustainable farming techniques is also expected to generate a number of business opportunities for service providers in the agriculture sector.

> https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/news/new-smart-farm-help-philippines-achieve-sustainable-agriculture-goals?utm_source=Oxford Business Group&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9513381_EU - Philippines - 24%2F05%2F2018 - New smart farm to help the Philippines achieve sustainable agriculture goals&dm_i=1P7V,5NWKL,HYQWJ4,M17GP,1

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... from the R&D side...

The Philippines moves to attract research and technology expertise

New legislation approved by the Philippine Parliament in March aims to incentivise scientists and researchers based overseas to return home to deepen the research and development (R&D) talent...

The reform should help address the Philippines’ current shortfall of scientific personnel: the country has 189 scientists per million people, according to data tabled in the Parliament, far behind other economies in the region like South Korea and Malaysia, which have 5300 and 2000 per million, respectively.

Prioritising research and incentivising personnel

Within the range of changes to be implemented following the act’s ratification, approved researchers returning to the Philippines for a short period of time will be allowed tax and duty exemptions on imported professional equipment and materials, free medical and accident insurance while in-country, and reimbursement of baggage expenses related to scientific projects.

For those making a long-term or permanent move, benefits include support in securing job opportunities for the scientist’s spouse, schooling allowances for children, a relocation subsidy, a monthly housing or accommodation stipend, and funding for the establishment and development of a facility or laboratory.

The legislation specifically targets industries that are priorities for the government, including artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, energy, agriculture and food technology, ICT, pharmaceuticals, electronics, genomics, health, nanotechnology and cybersecurity.

Connecting higher education and industry

If the scheme succeeds, it is likely to both serve as a template for universities to develop new education and research programmes in the fields prioritised by the government, as well as attract the teaching expertise necessary to deliver them.

While the Commission on Higher Education currently provides funding for the retraining of teachers in fields prioritised by the government, the approach has not been enough, according to Father Miranda, president of the University of San Carlos, a private research university based in Cebu.

“They poured in money for research and the development of faculties, but the process has dragged on for a long time without many results,” Miranda told OBG. “San Carlos and other universities are working hard to create new partnerships, but we find ourselves overstretched.”

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AGRICULTURAL Distribution & Food chains are changing

- as PH provinces move away from the Sari-sari store, & layers of middle men

FOOD CHAINS: Within those numbers there has been an ongoing shift towards more organised forms of retail, especially in the food segment. In all sizes of food stores, from hypermarkets to convenience stores, the leading chains are growing faster than the overall sector by poaching retail customers from outdoor markets and other kinds of shops while also attracting away operators of sari-sari stores from other distributors.

Sari-sari stores are small, typically kiosk-sized stores, usually located in residential areas and run out of a portion of the owner’s home. They serve mostly serve low-income clientele who live nearby, offering short-term credit and small, single-meal-sized portions. Estimates of their numbers run as high as 700,000, or about one for every 150 Filipinos. Sari-sari stores typically charge high mark-ups, which makes them prime targets for competition from smaller food stores, especially in neighbourhoods with rising incomes. On the other hand, larger supermarkets and hypermarkets get much of their business from sari-sari store operators.

One of the leading drivers of this change has been Puregold Price Club, a locally listed company specialising in hypermarkets and expanding into supermarkets and smaller food stores. Founded in 1998, Puregold has grown to be the country’s second-largest retailer with P57.4bn ($1.4bn) of sales in 2012, up from P39bn ($939.9m) in 2011, according to company filings. In its 2012 annual report, Puregold said it had supply relationships with 230,000 sari-sari stores and other resellers, which accounted for about 35% of sales. Puregold had a market capitalisation of P112.9bn ($2.7bn) as of late November 2013.

Puregold has pursued a strategy of rapidly expanding its network while also acquiring smaller chains. In May 2012 the company completed two acquisitions: long-time partner Kareila Management Corporation, making Puregold the sole operator of six popular warehouse membership shopping clubs; and smaller firm Gant Group, operator of 19 Parco brand supermarkets. In January 2013 Puregold acquired E Corporation, operator of 15 Grocer E and Eunilane supermarkets and convenience stores, for P330m ($8m).

On top of those acquisitions, Puregold opened six new stores in 2012 and planned to open 26 more in 2013, which would bring its store count to 197. New openings in 2012-13 include the company’s first ventures outside the main island of Luzon to the Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan, areas where retail is dominated by local companies. In July 2013, Puregold announced a joint venture with major builder-developer Ayala Land that would operate supermarkets within Ayala’s mixed-use developments under a new jointly owned brand.

> https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/expanding-opportunities-metro-manila-becomes-saturated-provincial-areas-are-increasingly-regarded

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