URBAN FARMING. Agriculture Secretary William Dar visits the Growtech farms in Novaliches on Wednesday (Oct. 10, 2021). Dar said the Growtech Farms greenhouse is the pilot urban farm project of Agrosheriff in the country. (Photo courtesy of DA Comms Group)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has intensified its campaign to promote urban agriculture through the help of private sector despite challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

During his visit to an urban farm in Novaliches, Quezon City, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said incorporating modern technology in agriculture will bear great results.

"Technology-based agriculture is the platform, and agripreneurship is a key strategy to modernize the country’s agriculture sector and contribute to its growth," he said on Wednesday.

He also said greater engagement with the private sector is necessary to invest in agriculture.

Accompanied by other DA officials, Dar visited Growtech Farms owned by Agrosheriff client Martin Escalona of Simplicity Solutions real estate.

Dar said the Growtech Farms greenhouse is the pilot urban farm project of Agrosheriff in the country.

The facility, which is intended for growing strawberries, lettuce, and other vegetables, features Israeli agricultural equipment and technologies including hydroponics and irrigation fertilizer systems.

The DA, through its new banner program, National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Program (NUPAP), seeks to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic to Filipino families especially in Metro Manila and other urban areas nationwide.

Escalona, through Growtech Farms, expressed his plans to offer farming classes.

DA's Agricultural Training Institute Director Rosana Mula said her office can assist Escalona with the establishment of an urban farm school.

Meanwhile, Agrosheriff Business Development Manager Roman Kataev explained that among Agrosheriff’s long-term goals are to ensure food security in the Philippines, improve the quality of fruits and vegetables, reduce imports, increase high-tech jobs, and increase the interest of young people to work in agriculture.

The private group offers open field irrigation systems, custom-built greenhouses, optimized hydroponics and fertigators, and watering system kits and equipment, among other services. (PNA)