By Adora Rodriguez, DA-AFID

Agriculture Secretary William Dar forged a partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on April 28, 20020 with the launching of the Urban Agriculture Program inside the compound of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“We thank Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense and AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos for opening the camp and rallying behind us in ensuring food security for the Filipino people,” Dar said.

The secretary, who turned over urban gardening starter kits to the officers and other military personnel inside the camp, noted that the partnership seeks to provide the Filipino soldiers a sustainable food supply during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“First of all, we thank you for ensuring peace and security in our country during these trying times. And now we thank you for partnering with us. Magkasangga na po ang DA at AFP sa paniniguro ng sapat na suplay ng pagkain,” Dar said.

Inside the camp, four livelihood areas were established for the production of vegetables, rabbit, and poultry raising, as well as fishery, to be managed by the members of the Wounded Soldiers Cooperative.

According to the DA chief, aside from being a source of nutritious and healthy food items, the urban agriculture site inside Camp Aguinaldo may serve as learning centers for soldiers and even civilians who wish to go into kitchen gardening.

“We will provide you starter kits so you can grow and raise vegetables and small animals. Once your project becomes sustainable, please share your learning and technology with others,” Dar stressed.

Urban agriculture, which forms part of the government’s Plant, Plant, Plant program, aims to empower city dwellers to grow their own food to attain household food security. The project also campaigns for the establishment of community gardens in open spaces in the barangay level that may provide extra income in case of surplus production.

“You can grow vegetables in your backyard and other small spaces, which may be ready for harvest in a month or two,“ Dar said.

The Agri chief noted that the initiative complements other actions undertaken by the government to address the challenges posed by the enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine to food security.

“We have been putting in place actions to ensure the unhampered delivery of food and other agricultural commodities. Rest assured that supply is enough for everyone. But just the same, we urge everyone to do their part,” he said.

Urban agriculture is being undertaken nationwide with the support and assistance of the Agricultural Training Institute, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Animal Industry, Livestock Development Program, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

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