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A.I. Driven Agriculture and Bamboo Farming

Keeping abreast of current events, specifically— agricultural news —it does not take a rocket scientist to be concerned about chronic national problems in the country regarding the sector of agriculture.

While some news are understandably beyond the control of mankind i.e. natural calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons— a few are disturbingly man-made.

Spoilage of overproduction of agricultural products are becoming more and more common. Most-often-than-not, we come across information about oversupply of vegetables in the Mountain Province. Agricultural goods are aplenty in Baguio and Benguet to a point where an exorbitant portion go to waste.

Recently, there is news about an oversupply situation of squash in two areas in the nation: Nueva Ecija and General Santos City. Reports state that farmers are pleading for government help and/or support to address the predicament. Farmers are forced to give away for free their source of livelihood to neighbors and to feed farm animals.

A few months ago, who could forget the national crisis on onions. At the worst peak, onions soared to a price as precious as gold, figuratively.

Furthermore, sugar became a national issue when its industry had to handle skirmishes within its own ranks. We hope that everything is under the bridge now. And, the solution was a win-win outcome for all camps.

During the pandemic, people realized that the most essential necessity, was still food. Food remains top priority at all times. Who plants our food? Who wakes up in the break of dawn? Who toils under the sun? Who nurtures them until harvest time? Our farmers.

Consequently, less young people are planning a life of farming. Probably, they are not aware of the advances in this field. Ghana offers a course on A.I. based Agriculture that is quite promising to its youth. It will join other countries in the new industrial revolution.

Important facts, and, other myriad factors are all taken into account to make an efficient and effective system that makes a farmer’s life much more easier. For instance, the drone is fully utilized in this regard to have a bird’s-eye view of the terrain, literally.

While having said that young people veer away from planting or doing business related to agriculture, older people are making it their retirement endeavour. My elder brother, Jesus Alfonso Z. Carpio is into farming nowadays. Specifically Bamboo Farming. When we were talking about the advantages of bamboo farming, I myself became convinced that it is a great venture. Here are 6 benefits of bamboo farming.:

Fast-growing | Bamboos are considered the “Ferraris” of all woody plants. This is because of the speed at which they grow as developing bamboos can add up to 1.2 meters to their height each day. Because of this, cutting down bamboo is not that damaging to the environment as they are easily replaceable. They can even complete their growth cycle in just three to four years and can even be harvested in a way that if only a third or sixth of the bamboo culms — the woody stem of the bamboo — are harvested per year, then more culms will actually grow in the following years.

Resilience | Bamboos forests have an underground network of fibrous roots called rhizomes which can extend up to 100km per hectare of bamboo. This biomass allows bamboo to survive and regenerate in locations that would otherwise be impossible to survive on. This makes bamboo resistant to the damaging effects of fire, flood, and drought on the environment.

Improves soil quality | This underground root system also allows bamboo to grow in loose soil and steep slopes, which is often incompatible for other plants. It does this while counteracting soil erosion and improving soil quality. This is why bamboos are considered pioneer species as they can be introduced to an environment with poor soil quality and help improve it.

A study in India showed how soil damaged by the local brick-making industry successfully recovered after bamboos were planted in the area. Bamboos also raised the groundwater table level of the area.

Improves water regulation | In Colombia, planting of guadua bamboo (Guadua angustifolia) improved degraded soil by decreasing soil compaction. This enabled the return of ecological functions like water regulation and nutrient recycling. This was proven again in China, where a study comparing bamboo and sweet potato plantations revealed that bamboo plantations exhibited 25% less water runoff compared to the sweet potato plantations.

Reduce coastal erosion | Bamboos are also used to reduce coastal erosion such as in the case in Thailand where bamboo poles were used as a fence to protect coastal mangroves. The bamboo fence received the full force of waves, reducing the strength of the waves by 70% and their height by 87%. After three years of using the bamboo fence alongside the mangrove trees, coastal erosion was averted with coastal sediments even increasing by 56cm.

Economic boon | Part of making people see how bamboos help restore ecosystems is to make them realize how the plant could directly help their lives. The bamboo industry is worth around US $60 billion and benefits over a third of the human population. Because of how fast they grow, people have been using bamboo to create a wide range of products. There are around 10,000 documented uses of bamboo. Among these include modern applications of bamboo in the field of construction and bioenergy. (The information provided here was taken from a side event of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) during the 17th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

After my brother, Pons, was finished enumerating the advantages of Bamboo Farming, I added, well, the bamboo shoots can be eaten too.

The Japanese people have a way of saying thanks before eating. They say out-loud or in their hearts, “Itadakimasu”, which has two profound meanings. First, is to thank all the people who were involved in the meal; the ones who prepared it, the ones who cooked it, the ones who planted it, and the ones who raised it. Second, it is a gratitude for life, the ones who gave up theirs for you to live yours.


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