The University of the East Caloocan (UE-Caloocan) is joining the campaign to promote urban farming as a food source for households amid food sustainability issues during the lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
UE Caloocan’s move comes amidst the community quarantine enforced in Luzon and several other areas in the Philippines that limited the movement of people and goods and affected the food source of communities.
The lockdown resulted in the loss of income for the majority of daily wage earners, people relied on relief goods from the government and charities which consisted of mostly canned and processed food. However, staying healthy to fight the coronavirus disease required fresh produce of fruits and vegetables.
The lessons of the lockdown bring forth food sustainability initiatives such as the partnership of UE Caloocan and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to promote urban farming or urban community agriculture.
The DA’s “Plant, Plant, Plant Program” also known as the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban sa Covid-19” program spearheaded is being implemented in the country to help farmers, fishers, and consumers and to secure safe and nutritious food supply during emergency situations.
The DA program provides households, especially in metropolitan areas, the free seeds so they can grow their own fresh and healthy food from their backyard or rooftop. This may be the best way to cope up with the ECQ and cut travel time spent in public markets.
DA, through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), forged a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the University of the East (UE) Caloocan campus, on May 4, 2020, in Diliman, Quezon City.
DA said that the partnership aims to promote household crop production and showcase food production using various technologies and other innovative gardening methods.
“Urban agriculture is one of the practical, effective measures to address stable food supply while fostering social integration among communities and eco-friendly methods amid the threat Covid-19 in the country,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
ATI and BPI will provide UE with “starter kits” that include vegetable seeds, compost, and garden tools, and technical assistance to establish the school gardens that will also serve as sites for hands-on training.
“The vegetable gardens will serve as models to showcase various urban agriculture techniques for beneficiaries, as well as community gene bank to sustain their own production of planting materials for its constituents,” Secretary Dar added.
DA reported that UE will designate areas where the vegetable gardens will be established, and promote urban agriculture in adjoining communities.
“We want more students and school staff to adopt the technologies, including communities around us, to sustain the urban agriculture program,” UE Caloocan Chancellor Zosimo Battad.
“This initiative strengthens our existing partnership with the DA particularly in providing safe and nutritious food among urban communities. We will integrate these with the UE’s current initiatives on extension and community outreach,” said Chancellor Battad.
For the expansion of urban agriculture program, ATI Asst. Dir. Rosana Mula said that they are already discussing it with the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
DA-ATI currently has distributed a total of 2,675 urban agri starter kits, including free seeds and farm implements (sprayer, spade, plastic mulch, mesh, etc.) to two communities in Quezon City (School of the Holy Spirit and Camp Aguinaldo) for their respective integrated vegetable gardens.
The agriculture chief recommends locally available agricultural products to stay healthy amidst the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (nCoV).
SEND CHEERS in the comments below to UE-Caloocan and the Agriculture Department for partnering to work on food sustainability through urban farming!
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