Women and youth champion eco-farming, gardening in tourism trade fair

tourism trade fair eco-farming gardening
Indian Cultural Association of the Philippines tours the Exhibit, including herbal teas from Cavite and bananas from Davao. Photo from organizers Regine Guevara and Editha Rosario of Urban Green Communes and IMA-DAR.

Women and youth were seen championing eco-farming and gardening in a recent tourism and travel trade fair held in Quezon City.

The women and youth organizers, farmers and gardeners of the International Marian Association of DAR and Urban Green Communes organized the 2021 Resilient Eco-Farm Tourism Travel and Trade Exhibit from January 29-30 at the Robinsons Nova Mall.

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The 2-day theme exhibit opened spaces for discoveries on how to forward together and level-up the playing field, while keeping in mind balance in land use to maximize limited resources and community-driven profits (SDG 8).

With partners such as the Department of Agriculture, the event gave away 100 sets of urban farming starter kits and 100 seeds/ seedlings to mall patrons and guests. Other relevant agencies that provided useful information include the Department of Tourism, and its Tourism Promotions Board, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the National Youth Commission, the NCCA-National Library of the Philippines, Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, GPSTV, Robinsons Land Corporation. Dignitaries in attendance include the Embassy of Belgium, the Embassy of Cambodia, the Embassy of Thailand, Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine-Russia Business Assembly, Ikebana-Japan Society New York City, Friends of Arts and Culture-Uruguay, Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation, World Islamic Economic Forum, among others.

Following this local grassroots movement, plantitos and plantitas, agrarian beneficiaries, supporters from the public and private sector, at the national, regional, and global levels, have come together to welcome the year with this unique hybrid format in compliance with mandatory health protocols. The physical set-up hosted 20 food, merchandise, and informational booths, to showcase local best practices, including eco-friendly technologies for edible green spaces within subdivision housing projects and green building structures such as Rooftop Sustainable Gardens (HBI-Urban Loft’s RSGardens).

On-site was also a new farm tourism site, Farmacy Haven, a natural healing and wellness centre in Amadeo, Cavite, which is curating “Grow your own medicine” e-learning with the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care, Department of Health. Aditi Ahuja, Noble Queen of the World and Founder of Indian Cultural Association of the Philippines, also expressed her advocacy for health and well-being, (SDG3) given her home country’s expertise in organic food and herbal medication. Furthermore, Agrarian Reform Community (ARCs) products through the Integrated Rural Development Fund and IMA-DAR were able to identify ready and secured markets, in an attempt to bridge the continued urban-rural divide (SDG 10-11), in conjunction with many other environmental targets (SDGs 12-15).

“It all started with a garden,” an eco-themed art, culture and food exhibit entitled: 2021 Resilient Eco-Farm Tourism Travel and Trade Exhibit welcomed patrons of Robinsons Nova Mall last 29-30 January 2021. Ushered by the Department of Agrarian Reform retirees, District Congressman Alfred Vargas led the ceremonial ribbon cutting with the presence of the 11th Civil Operations Military Battalion of the Philippine Army and Princess Jacel Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu, as he welcomed partners, special guests, and exhibitors dedicated to the interlinkages of national peacebuilding and development. It was a timely call-to-action – to survive the pandemic, green communes, both in the urban and rural settings, need to be resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.

At the global stage, the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals presents the quintessential nexus of People, Planet, Profit, and finally, Partnerships, where SDG 2 advocates all stakeholders to work collectively towards “Zero Hunger, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture.” Even before the onset of the pandemic, Secretary-General António Guterres scheduled a Food Systems Summit later this year, with the goal of rallying food producers and consumers towards environmental stewardship. In the Philippines, one of the cities leading the discourse is Quezon City, which has pioneered not only an SDG Committee but a Food Security Taskforce, to promote the city’s urban agriculture program #GrowQC: Kasama ka sa Pag-unlad sa Pagkain, Kabuhayan, at Kalusugan. The Mayor aims to develop resilient and self-sustaining food systems and zones, especially as the pandemic has increased activity among urban farmers (fondly known as “plantitos and plantitas.”).

Following this local grassroots movement, plantitos and plantitas, agrarian beneficiaries, supporters from the public and private sector, at the national, regional, and global levels, have come together to welcome the year with this unique hybrid format in compliance with mandatory health protocols. The physical set-up hosted 20 food, merchandise, and informational booths, to showcase local best practices, including eco-friendly technologies for edible green spaces within subdivision housing projects and green building structures such as Rooftop Sustainable Gardens (HBI-Urban Loft’s RSGardens). On-site was also a new farm tourism site, Farmacy Haven, a natural healing and wellness centre in Amadeo, Cavite, which is curating “Grow your own medicine” e-learning with the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care, Department of Health. Aditi Ahuja, Noble Queen of the World and Founder of Indian Cultural Association of the Philippines, also expressed her advocacy for health and well-being, (SDG3) given her home country’s expertise in organic food and herbal medication. Furthermore, Agrarian Reform Community (ARCs) products through the Integrated Rural Development Fund and IMA-DAR were able to identify ready and secured markets, in an attempt to bridge the continued urban-rural divide (SDG 10-11), in conjunction with many other environmental targets (SDGs 12-15).

In parallel, a virtual conference tele-casted solidarity messages and project presentations on Farm Tourism. According to Department Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, farm tourism is “a catalyst for sustainable tourism and inclusive development… gainful employment, enhanced productivity and sustainable livelihoods are what tourism is really all about,” in reference to Republic Act No. 10816 on the Development and Promotion of Farm Tourism in the Philippines. Further, Secretary Salvador Panelo, Presidential Chief Legal Counsel. And Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, former Chairperson of the Committee on Food and Agriculture, expressed support to the organizers and the need for legal frameworks around not only food security but also agri-exports and eco-tourism. Cecile Guidote Alvarez, Director of Earthsavers UNESCO Dreamcenter-ITI Philippines, also called for a Presidential Declaration on organic farming and environmental disaster-resilience citing that, “the Philippines can prove its leadership in the implementation of the SDGs… with the panorama of food security and cultural diplomacy.”

Evidently, the 2-day theme exhibit opened spaces for discoveries on how to forward together and level-up the playing field, while keeping in mind balance in land use to maximize limited resources and community-driven profits (SDG 8). The exhibit itself was a joint effort of women and youth organizers, farmers, and gardeners from the International Marian Association of DAR and Urban Green Communes, with partners such as the Department of Agriculture, which gave away 100 sets of urban farming starter kits and 100 seeds/ seedlings to mall patrons and guests. Other relevant agencies that provided useful information include the Department of Tourism, and its Tourism Promotions Board, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the National Youth Commission, the NCCA-National Library of the Philippines, Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, GPSTV, Robinsons Land Corporation. Dignitaries in attendance include the Embassy of Belgium, the Embassy of Cambodia, the Embassy of Thailand, Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine-Russia Business Assembly, Ikebana-Japan Society New York City, Friends of Arts and Culture-Uruguay, Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation, World Islamic Economic Forum, among others.

Indeed, the heart of sustainable development lies in a whole-of-systems approach and multi-stakeholder partnerships. Understanding the interlinkages of tourism, trade, agriculture, and the environment, with crucial knowledge on safe travel goals and access points to safe markets, is key to shared resilience. This pandemic is a wake-up call that certainly circles back to the basics, with deeper appreciation of what is evermore a basic human need – food, and food systems – how it is grown, and how it is shared.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team
The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.