By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – As families stay in their respective homes during the community quarantine due to the threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a backyard gardening approach is being pushed to secure the community’s food source.

An initiative being taken by the Department of Agriculture (DA)–Caraga Region 13, through its High Value Crops Program (HVCDP), is the distribution of vegetable seeds to walk-in clients who want to engage in vegetable gardening.

“Backyard gardening will help ensure that every household will have their own source of food in the coming days especially now that we are facing this COVID-19 threat,” said Marco Antonio Morido, HVCDP Program Coordinator.

In addition, Morido said “growing your own food ensures that these would be safe and gardening can also be a form of exercise.”

Moreover, Morido said that, now that the whole country is under quarantine, people are discouraged from going out so they really have time to plant and tend to a backyard garden and still be productive.

The HVCDP team has repacked their remaining available vegetable seeds so that more people can be given. The Department will also be procuring additional seeds to cater to more requests.

Morido also said that they were encouraging local government units (LGUs) which may still have available seeds to also do the same so that more people can plant and grow their own source of food.

This initiative is also in support of the DA’s “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat” or ALPAS COVID-19 which is also called the “Plant, Plant, Plant Program” (4Ps).

According to DA Secretary William Dar, the government, through ALPAS COVID-19, commits to provide adequate, accessible and affordable food for every Filipino family.

DA 13 Regional Executive Director Abel James I. Monteagudo encouraged Caraganons to engage in backyard gardening because this would be a big help to secure food source in this time of health crisis.

“This is a big help and besides backyard produce are good for the health in this time of crisis,” stressed the region’s DA 13 chief.

Meanwhile, DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda told The Manila Bulletin on Friday that 306 individuals and 15 associations have already availed of various gardening seeds in Caraga region, particularly in Butuan City and Agusan del Norte.

“Ang DA 13 through HVCDP ay tuloy ang gating pagbibigay ng backyard seedlings at iba pang kailanganin ng ating mga magsasaka,” the DA 13 regional spokesperson told The Manila Bulletin, in an exclusive interview on Friday.

Presilda also assured Caraganons of enough and ample rice stocks amidst COVID-19 threat.

For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga