By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – Many residents in Caraga region now turn to home gardening to support some of their daily needs amidst coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The DA 13 promotes diversified home gardening to help residents in their respective family to have sustainable food source amidst the pandemic,” Department of Agriculture 13 (DA 13) Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda said.

Home gardening is also DA Secretary William Dar’s initiative through the agency’s Corn-Vegetable Integrated and Diversified (COVID) Food Production Project, the DA 13 regional spokesperson said.

Butuan City residents have accepted the agency’s endeavour, which has been dubbed “Ahon Lahat Pagkain Sapat” or ALPAS COVID-19 Challenge.

To qualify, potential home gardeners must have a vacant area of at least 200-400 sq.m. Interested participants, either individual or group, will just send-in the photo of their proposed area to DA Caraga’s official FB page. Technical personnel of DA Caraga will visit the area for an assessment.

DA will provide corn and vegetable seeds, garden tools, organic fertilizers, chicken, and technical assistance to a qualified individual or group participants.

Earlier, DA Caraga Livestock Program handed native chickens to the three initial recipients of the project namely; Morris Nortega of Km.3 Baan, Cecile Tiu Espenido of Barangay Bonbon and Soledad Calo of Barangay.Bit-os, Butuan City. They also received seeds and farm tools.

The Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade based at Camp Bancasi here is also a recipient of the project.

“This program is the fulfillment of my long plan to maximize our vacant space but I cannot proceed due to my work, but the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, gave me an ample time while at home, so this program of DA is a blessing in disguise,” Nortega said.

“With the threat of the pandemic, it is not good that we will always depend on the government ration, in our own way we can sustain as long as we have the will,” he added.

Jekem Sanchez, DA Caraga Livestock coordinator said that it is ideal that the limited space in the home will be utilized for crops and animal raising to have a steady supply of food.
“Through integrated and diversified gardening, you can have a variety of produce from your own home, a big help as we are still experiencing limited movement due to quarantine measures imposed by the government,” he said.

DA technical staff will regularly visit the project recipients to check the progress and to give technical advice as needed.

Diversified home garden is a practical approach since it includes a variety of crop in a single field; incorporating livestock; rotating crops; and conserving natural areas in the landscapes around the farm.