Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Turning Manila into an Agricultural Capital




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One of the most amazing things about procrastination is that your mind wanders. Back in the age of lesser technology, your mind was the sole source of imagination. Thanks to the Internet, when your mind wanders, there’s solid proof provided by the number of browser windows you have open.

Not that I’m complaining. The main reason I started writing this post was because I was reading an article about Generation Y, and how this generation was going to change the workplace. I was born in 1983, and am a trailblazing pioneer in this brave, new, world of office-based employment. Even now, as I try to make money out of very little resources with the hopes of establishing my own empire office in the so-called heart of the Philippines, I recognize many of the items itemized in the list, such as the important of assistants, even at a personal cost, or the value of human resources. This article made me realize that slowly, we’re moving towards that goal of an industrialized, commercialized sprawl throughout the available landmass of the country, and that soon, agriculture’s going to be a dead language in a land otherwise gifted with dwindling natural resources.

This is, if you’re paying attention, where I start to meander. The reason being this:

That’s a vertical farm. That’s the future of urban agriculture. I read on it some time ago, and the idea was pretty much the best agri idea I’ve seen since Agrisiyete. Instead of horizontal tracts of land, the idea of building vertical farming houses with rotating “floors” that house the crops made this an industrial marvel that’d be perfect for an urban sprawl like Manila. There’s a skylight (or, as shown in this photo, an ultraviolet receiver / converter commonly used by solar power plants in Sim City 2000) for letting the sun in, and all the crops are alternately given a requisite amount of sunlight, depending on how much of the resource they need.

The problem with this kind of technology is well discussed in the concept’s Wikipedia article, and I don’t presume to tell engineers how to do their jobs. At best, I give it another decade at least, assuming that the production of advanced construction and engineering facilities improve in roughly the similar pace that the electronics industry has seen in the past decade.

But I think that, as a country with massive agricultural potential, this is a direction that we need to study. There are amazing developments in the field of industrialized and advanced farming, but I think that the resources in this country are few and far between. I know UP Los BaƱos has animal husbandry and veterinary medicine. I also know that Ateneo de Cagayan has a scientific degree in farming. But I sometimes can’t help but wonder how the so-called “central” universities in the metro are helping out. This article alone posits a variety of engineering feats that improve waste management and production in farming. You could put a whole generation of engineering undergraduates to work on these ends, and by the time half of these students finish their theses, you’ve got a whole generation of new ideas for patented methods of tilling the soil. Students from the colleges of science could devote themselves to creating stronger, faster, sturdier crops (yes, I know we’re dealing with GMOs here, but the golden rice is a GMO and it helped kids in Africa). There’s limitless potential here.

And if the article I initially linked to (Gen Y and the office, remember?) knows even half of what it’s talking about, there’s a good possibility that my generation, our generation, could be the ones responsible for spearheading this change. I don’t see anything like this remotely being developed in the city, but we’re only a decade into the 21st century. Who knows what the future may bring?

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