By Mike U. Crismundo

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade based here partnered with the Department of Agriculture (DA Caraga Region 13) for its urban agricultural program dubbed as “Ahon Lahat Pagkaing Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19” or “ALPAS sa COVID-19”.

“ALPAS sa COVID-19” is an Urban Agricultural Program of the DA that aims to ensure the food sustainability in Metro Manila and other Highly Urbanized Cities (HUCs) all over the country and to provide an alternate source of livelihood by contributing to economic gains for urban dwellers amidst the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

The command group and personnel of 402nd Brigade and DA 13 officials joined in a two day technical briefing and orientation seminar here for full swing of the project, down to lower units last week.

Twenty-two organic personnel of the 402nd Brigade to include those from its Operation Control (OPCON) and tenants units inside the Bancasi Military Reservation (BMR) participated in the said 2-day activity facilitated by different Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from DA Caraga who discussed vegetable gardening, vermicast production, corn seeds and mushroom production, poultry production, and goat raising.

DA 13 top officials led by Regional Executive Director Abel James I. Monteagudo and Assistant Regional Director (ARD) Nicandro M. Navia, said that with the ALPAS sa COVID-19 Program, the DA will provide Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for the conduct of various training on urban farming including different types of agricultural farming methods provide seedlings and garden tools to those living or located in urbanized areas such as Butuan City.

The COVID-19 is a teacher. It taught us how to budget and sustain our food requirement. It also teaches us how to unite and converge our effort, on how we are going to pool our resources, the DA 13 officials said.

“To my list, the uniformed personnel are the most unlikely group to tap the DA and have interests in agriculture because they are the ones who were tasked to secure the boundaries, checkpoints and movement of the people, also said ARD Navia.

“I’m overwhelmed seeing uniformed personnel trying to tap DA to teach them on the proper way of planting scientifically. We are really happy to be partnering with the AFP. The threat of COVID-19 is as real as the threat of hunger”, he said.

Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, commanding general of the 402nd Brigade also said that the activity will promote and support food production as the unit already anticipated the food shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis by conducting backyard gardening on its one (1) hectare unutilized portion of the camp.

“It will enhance the capability and technical skills of the troops on urban farming and acquire knowledge on other alternative sources of food to keep our troops busy while strictly observing the Home Quarantine protocol inside the camp,” he said.

“One aspect of security is food security. As an agricultural country, we will not starve if we know how to plant. Hence, we are very glad about this ALPAS program initiated by the DA,” the 402nd Brigade commander said.

Brig. Gen. Licudine added: “We thank the DA Caraga together with its technical staff for the benevolence and support on helping us learn the scientific methods of planting so that we can have ample food while performing our task in support of the RTF COVID19 One Caraga Shield and PNP in this pandemic crisis”.