By Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms

Following the intensified promotion of urban agriculture, amid the extended quarantine period, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), forged a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the University of the East (UE) Caloocan campus, on 4 May 2020, in Diliman, Quezon City.

The DA-UE partnership aims to promote household crop production and showcase food production using various technologies and other innovative gardening methods.

“Urban agriculture is one of the practical, effective measures to address stable food supply while fostering social integration among communities and eco-friendly methods amid the threat Covid-19 in the country,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

In response, UE Caloocan Chancellor Zosimo Battad expressed his support to DA’s urban agriculture program.

“UE supports the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program through the implementation of urban agriculture with ATI and BPI. This initiative strengthens our existing partnership with the DA particularly in providing safe and nutritious food among urban communities. We will integrate these with the UE’s current initiatives on extension and community outreach,” said Chancellor Battad.

The DA through ATI and BPI will provide UE with “starter kits” that include vegetable seeds, compost, and garden tools, and technical assistance to establish the school gardens that will also serve as sites for hands-on training.

“The vegetable gardens will serve as models to showcase various urban agriculture techniques for beneficiaries, as well as community gene bank to sustain their own production of planting materials for its constituents,” said Secretary Dar.

Meanwhile, UE will designate areas where the vegetable gardens will be established, and promote urban agriculture in adjoining communities.

“We want more students and school staff to adopt the technologies, including communities around us, to sustain the urban agriculture program,” added Battad, who was joined by director Roger Espiritu of UE extension and community outreach office.

ATI Asst. Dir. Mula said they have started talks with the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, to further expand the urban agriculture program, launched on April 16, 2020.

To date, the DA-ATI has distributed a total of 2,675 urban agri starter kits, including free seeds and farm implements (sprayer, spade, plastic mulch, mesh, etc.) to two communities in Quezon City (School of the Holy Spirit and Camp Aguinaldo) for their respective integrated vegetable gardens.

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