The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently launched the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program to protect the country’s food security which has been threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In support of this initiative by the DA, East-West Seed is continuously working to get seeds and seedlings as close as possible to smallholder farmers, home gardeners, and other people who have limited food resources.
“Certainly, in this time of crisis, it is more vital than ever that people around the world continue to have access to healthy vegetables, and we must do all we can to help them,” said Simon Groot, East-West Seed founder and 2019 World Food Prize Laureate.
Together with its professional seedling nursery arm, Farm-Ready, East-West Seed is set to donate PhP 6 million worth of vegetable seeds, seedlings, and fruiting plants to farmer groups, local government units and non-government organizations in the country to give more communities access to safe and nutritious food and help augment the country’s food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of writing, East-West Seed and Farm-Ready have already turned over 90,000 planting materials (seed packs, seedlings, and fruiting plants) to 16 communities in Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Caloocan City.
East-West Seed will be distributing more seeds and seedlings to more communities in Oriental Mindoro, Cavite, Leyte, Iloilo, Quezon City, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Marikina City, Laguna, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Abra, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and North Cotabato in the coming days.
East-West Seed, through the Philippine Seed Industry Association, will also work with the Department of Agriculture and selected LGUs in Metro Manila to establish community vegetable gardens in urban areas.
Sustaining Farmers and Communities’ Access to Seeds
To ensure the steady supply of seeds in the country and continuous provision of assistance to farmers, East-West Seed continues to operate under a skeleton workforce for its seed production and processing functions, and work-from-home arrangement for its office-based employees.
“Disruption of vegetable farming now could lead to shortages of nutritious vegetables in the near future. Vegetable farmers need continued access to seeds and other agriculture inputs“ said Henk Hermans, General Manager of East-West Seed Philippines.
The company is implementing strict hygiene and safety measures in all its stations to protect the health of its employees and nearby communities. All employees were also given access to professional mental health services to help them cope with the anxiety or stress that they might feel due to the COVID-19 situation.
Improving farmers and home gardeners’ knowledge in vegetable growing
East-West Seed also recently launched VeggiEskwela Online on East-West Seed Philippines’ Facebook page. This online learning program aims to help farmers and home gardeners increase their knowledge on vegetable growing even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine and also encourage more people to engage in vegetable farming and gardening.
East-West Seed’s technical experts lined up a total of 13 webinars on various topics which will be broadcasted until the first week of May.
As of writing, East-West Seed has launched 7 webinars on the following topics: 1) Container Gardening, 2) Backyard Garden Pest and Disease Management; 3) Vermicomposting; 4) Identifying and Controlling Fall Armyworm; 5) Soil Preparation for Seed Sowing for your Home Garden; 6) Pest and Disease Control in Eggplants 7) Land Preparation. Each webinar has an average viewership of 11,000.
All webinars may be accessed for free at: East-West Seed Philippines Facebook Page.