Vertical farming is a climate-smart food production technology that could be made available and accessible to Filipino farmers. It involves the process of growing food or other agricultural products within factory-style situations. Vertical farming offers a model for a food production system that is not vulnerable to variability of climate and insulated to pests and pathogens. Vertical Farming is a realistic future farming system which offers stable model needed for future food production.
Most vertical farms use 70-80% less water than conventional farming. Globally, around 70% of the freshwater available for human use is used for agriculture, which is a major environmental and human health issue” (Business Wales. (n.d.).
In our country the Philippines, total water withdrawal in 2009, was an estimated 81,555 million m3, of which 82% was for agricultural purposes (including 754 million m3 of aquaculture), 8% for municipalities, and 10% for industry. Other non-consumptive use of water includes hydropower (110 079 million m3) and recreation (244 million m3) (Food and Agriculture Organization, n.d.). Fierce competition for water allocation among the agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial sectors is happening in the Philippines due to diminishing plain water resource (Labiano, n.d.).
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippines is likely to face shortages of water for drinking, sanitation, agriculture, and industry within the next ten years unless stronger management and conservation efforts are initiated (Kritz, 2016). The situation will impact dire consequences on the population, the economy, and the ecosystem. The Philippines’ regional group, which includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, faces a challenging future. “The region is a global hotspot for water insecurity,” despite improvements in managing water resources. The demand for water region is projected to increase by about 55%, due to the growing needs for domestic water, manufacturing, and thermal electricity generation. Agriculture will demand more water if it is to produce 60% more food globally by 2050, and 100% more in developing countries, according to the ADB.
From an environmental perspective, vertical farming creates an opportunity for returning farmland to its original ecological function, thus its widespread application within urban centers could reduce conflict between urban development and food production.
The number of technological options available for reducing agricultural impact on the land and the oceans, while at the same time sustaining a growing human population, is very limited. Vertical farming represents one of the few new opportunities that the Philippines should fully explore in its effort to improve agricultural production. Vertical farming offers the Philippine government opportunities to better uphold the right to food of every Filipinos and to better pursue food security. It offers an innovative solution in addressing hunger by making food more available and accessible, while at the same time increasing the income of farmers. It has the potential of contributing to inclusive growth and in helping the country achieve its commitment under the UN Sustainable Development Goals on poverty reduction, zero hunger, and in improving the health and well-being of Filipinos.