By Gumamela Ceres Bejarin, DA-AFID
Agriculture Secretary William Dar and other officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the harvesting of fresh vegetables from the technology demonstration sites of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), highlighting the culmination of the 2020 National Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month celebration on May 29, 2020.
The model urban farm called “ATIng Gulayan ng DA” showcases replicable technologies and practices in urban agriculture, edible landscaping, and sustainable agriculture that maximize limited spaces in urban areas. It supports the DA’s intensified Urban Agriculture Project under the Plant Plant Plant Program or Agri 4Ps that aims at ensuring food availability and affordability.
“Urban agriculture is such an important project that we have now institutionalized in a big way. Many people live in urban areas and about 10 to15 percent if those areas have enough spaces that can be utilized for the production of vegetables and fruits,” Secretary Dar said.
He added that during the pandemic, it is necessary to bring the opportunity of urban agriculture in Metro Manila and in other areas of the country with the basic objective of ensuring household food security.
Tasked to lead the DA’s Urban Agriculture Project, the ATI, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and their satellite offices nationwide distribute garden starter kits or farm inputs and provide technical assistance to households and communities in establishing and maintaining their gardens. ATI and BPI also actively conduct capacity building activities on urban/backyard gardening and disseminate information, education, and communication materials.
As of May 21, a total of 675,773 individuals/households and 62 local government units and institutions have received seeds and planting materials from the project. More than two million individuals also participated in the trainings and advisories conducted by the ATI.
In addition to vegetable production, Secretary Dar also encourages poultry and livestock raising in areas where these activities are allowed.
During the event, Secretary Dar referred to the farmers and fisherfolk as the heroes producing food for every Filipino and he committed to continue serving them as they toil so that the Filipinos shall have enough food to eat.
“We see to it that food production continues to be pursued by the heroes in the countryside and these are the farmers and fishers who are really braving the environment brought by Covid-19, because we need to have an abundant supply of food,” he said.
He also highlighted how the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is necessary for improving an individual’s immune system to have a better chance against the coronavirus.