By Zaldy Comanda

BAGUIO CITY — Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Mayor Benjamin Magalong signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Agriculture and Local Government Unit to adopt the city as pilot area for the implementation of Urban Agriculture Project (UAP) at the Baguio Country Club, here.

The UAP is a project implemented in support to the DA’s bandwagon ‘Ahon Lahat Pagkaing Sapat’ (ALPAS) kontra COVID-19 also known as the Plant Plant Plant Program.

And by adopting Baguio City for the UAP, it is hoped that agri-tourism could be developed in the city to further promote the importance of agriculture and to urge its people to engage into urban gardening. These, when materialized will contribute to the city’s food requirement as well as to the promotion of better access to food safety.

In the MOU, the DA through its DA-Regional Field Office in CAR, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-CAR, and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)- Baguio National Crop Research Development and Production Support Center (BNCRDPSC) will be providing initial farm inputs such as seeds/seedlings and small animals like chicks/chickens to the pilot areas in the city.

For the City LGU, they shall identify the pilot areas and appropriate recipients within the city where the UAP will be implemented; provide areas for the establishment of community gardens; designate a UAP focal person for the city LGU, and endorse the program to the private sector for its possible participation either by providing additional urban agri-inputs other than those provided by the DA-CAR.

The private sector may also opt to adopt a park in the city or an idle public land where urban agriculture may be developed and maintained until tourism in the city revitalizes.

During the height of community quarantine due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the DA-CAR and BPI-BNCRDPSC have been assisting the urban residents to ensure continuous food production and availability as part of the UAP in the form of starter kits in urban gardening, poultry, and marketing assistance.

Since March 30, 2020, a total of 654.875 kilograms of assorted seeds were distributed to 11,582 beneficiaries. Assorted seedlings totaling to 46,350 pcs and complementary agricultural inputs particularly Trichoderma Harzanium and Neem insecticides were also provided to 435 individuals.

Moreover, 416 city households were able to receive 4,830 ready-to-lay chicken and 800 bags of feeds amounting to Php2.944 Million while seven individuals and two community groups have received 355 heads of one-month-old chicks particularly native chicken and red Hubbard.

Aside from the immediate assistance on urban agriculture initiative, various farmer groups were also able to sell their products despite community restrictions on marketing and traveling through the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita Program.

The assistance particularly the provision of seeds is continuous and extends to other areas in the region who are in need and interested to go into urban gardening and/or backyard gardening.