Filipino farmers have one of the most labor-intensive jobs in the county- tilling soil, tending to crops under the heat of the day most without the aid of modern equipment that makes the work easier. Carrying the burden of providing food security for millions- they also have the lowest of income averaging only Php 331.10 per day on 2019. Subtract here the cost of the growing crops: irrigation, fertilizer, tool repairs, feeding their beasts of burden- and what they have dwindles even more.
High cost of production constrains Philippine agriculture. The cost of fertilizer is especially problematic averaging about Php 1,750/ $35 per sack from Php 1,000/$20. One of the reasons for this high cost is that the country is dependent on imported fertilizer.
Project NexCities aim to help our farmers in the near future by producing a locally-made fertilizer from sewage that is cheaper (and more sustainable) than the imported product they are currently using. Despite the pandemic, the team is continually testing the efficacy of the powdered struvite- a phosphorus-rich by-product from processing sewage– to growing crops like tomato, eggplant, and other leafy vegetable in Salikneta Farm in Bulacan.
The next step after greenhouse and field testing is sharing the product and the process to selected farmers and see if will be effective in their own farms and also to test the social acceptability of the novel waste-to-fertilizer project.
According to Ms. Apple Suplido from De La Salle Araneta University who is leading the team at Salikneta Farm, struvite testing on leafy vegetables can be shared to the farmers initially as this crop grows faster than the others.
As top stakeholders, the selected farmers will be invited to Salikneta Farm for training on how to apply the newly-developed struvite fertilizer so that it will achieve its full efficacy. The process will also be presented to them for full transparency.
Ms. Amy Lecciones, team lead for Communications, said that they already have a set of farmers ready to take on the challenge of applying the fertilizer developed by the scientists of the NexCities Project.
Converting wastewater into nutrient-rich fertilizer for a better city of the future