Given its commitment to help Filipino farmers and the urban poor families in improving their incomes, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is promoting the technology on Simple Nutrients Addition Program (SNAP) hydroponics in Metro Manila and various provinces in the country for wider adoption and utilization. This technology which is being promoted as a low-cost and pesticide-free vegetable farming system, has been featured in agriculture shows like, NBS’s Mag-Agri Tayo and was highlighted in various exhibits, forums, and symposia.
SNAP hydroponics is an alternative system of growing plants without soil. It uses an inert media and a nutrient solution containing essential elements needed by the plant to grow. The technology was developed by Dr. Primitivo Jose A. Santos and Dr. Eureka Teresa M. Ocampo of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) under a project funded by BAR that is primarily designed for urban farming and backyard vegetable farming systems.
This technology is doable in apartments or townhouses where a small space is available for growing crops for home consumption. A small space is easy to protect against rain and strong sunlight. Crops like lettuce, sweet pepper, cucumber, and celery are among the vegetables suitable for this farming system.
In an interview, Dr. Santos said that SNAP hydroponics is more practical than the conventional farming system. Supplies are cheap and can be sourced out from recyclable materials. In fact, a single unit of snap hydroponics will cost only PhP 38.00 at most, making it affordable and easy to set-up.
In Pasay City, Engineer Rolando Londonio, head of the City’s Cooperative Development Office (CDO), tried SNAP hydroponics at home and saw that it is a good livelihood project. He incorporated the SNAP Hydroponics livelihood program in their two existing programs: 1) the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program – a national poverty reduction and social development program of the national government that assists extremely poor households improve their health, nutrition, and education; and, 2) Pasay HOPES program which is designed to empower the youth, particularly the Out of School Youth (OSY), to become skilled and productive members of the community. These programs are conducted in collaboration with the National government thru DSWD and the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In support to the programs, Engr. Londonio conducts training sessions in three Barangays in Pasay City on SNAP Hydroponics Systems with the help of Dr. Santos of UPLB to capacitate the project beneficiaries on the basic knowledge about the technology. To date, the CDO has put-up a nursery to supply the seedling materials needed by the outreach community particularly in Barangay 201, Barangay 14 and Barangay 193 of Pasay City.
Like Engineer Londonio, Mr. Arthur Dimalanta, church leader and businessman who learned about the technology from a friend, is putting up a livelihood program to help the less privileged urban dwellers in Quezon City. SNAP hydroponics will be a part of the effort in their subdivision where a vegetable business will be established to serve their community.
On the other hand, in the seminar conducted by BAR during the celebration of the prestigious Agrilink, Foodlink, Aqualink Expo 2009 at the World Trade Center, an interested audience showed willingness to try the technology in their own backyards. Most of the participants were from urban villages composed of church leaders, government employees, factory workers, businessman, farmers and other vegetable enthusiasts mostly from highly populated areas in Metro Manila.
“We’re happy that our urban communities are now adopting this technology. This will eventually improve household income and increase our per capita vegetable consumption and, therefore, will lessen malnutrition,” said Dr. Santos.
The increasing number of technology user is apparent based on the increasing number of orders and sales of the SNAP solution said Dr. Santos. He also noted that the number of inquiries thru email and by phone also on the rise