April 9 - A low-cost, easy-to-use hydroponics system developed in the Philippines is giving small communities with little land an inexpensive way to produce their own vegetables. The system is designed to maximize yields from limited resources and is already proving its worth with bumper harvests of inexpensive, locally grown vegetables. Ben Gruber reports.
In the Manila suburb of Twinville, the local vegetable market is bustling. On sale today - hydroponic lettuce - one of several vegetables locally grown using a new and inexpensive system developed by researchers at the University of the Philippines. Hydroponics is a growing method that uses dissolved nutrient solutions in water without soil for plant absorption. The researchers say they started experimenting with hydroponic systems because they require much less space than traditional farming - making it ideal for poorer farmers with little land. The university's Eureka Ocampo says their system is extremely user-friendy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCHER EUREKA OCAMPO SAYING: "It's actually formulated in such a manner that the farmer or anybody who wants to try hydroponics does not have to watch out if there are any sudden changes in the PH that would cause a decrease in the plant growth." Researcher Primitivo Santos says that skyrocketing food prices, have made locally grown crops increasingly popular. He says that by using their hydroponic technology, small farmers can grow food even in dry spells. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCHER PRIMITIVO SANTOS SAYING: "If time will come when there's severe water shortage, at least we have a system where we can plant and grow crops with little water." In Twinville, the hydroponics programme has been so successful that the community makes a profit selling surplus crops. Homeowner Association President, Sunny Padaguan, says aside from the money - the systems has other benefits. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino/English) TWINVILLE SUBDIVISION HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT SUNNY PAGADUAN SAYING: "Aside from not using insecticides, we are sure that the vegetables do not have salmonella, amoeba and heavy metals. That is the big difference between a lettuce grown on the ground and lettuce grown using our system, the hydroponics." The Philippines government has taken notice of Twinvilles' success. They plan to begin similar hydroponic programmes in other parts of the country soon. Ben Gruber, Reuters.