When the lockdowns started in March 2020, a lot of families had to suffer immense hunger and poverty stemming from the closure of businesses and absence of reliable sources of livelihood.

In a pitch to help communities escape the cycle of pandemic poverty and hunger, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines introduced the Foodshed Farming System – a compact, protective, regenerative, and diversified food production system that adopts natural and green farming technologies to produce healthy and quality vegetables and poultry products for the community.

Community members pack crops from their food shed in preparation for the marketplace. Food sheds bring
the promise of sustainable prosperity for rural communities. Photograph © Alo Lantin / WWF-Philippines

A foodshed model is pre-fabricated, modular, and made of locally available materials with a production area of 60 square meters. Built with the support of various partners, WWF-Philippines was able to establish a total of 44 foodsheds throughout the country, bringing food and livelihood security for many communities.

Hunger remains a significant problem for the Philippines, made worse by the ongoing pandemic. A study from Social Weather Stations conducted between the months of April and May revealed that approximately 16.8% of Filipino families experienced hunger in 2021. According to projections from the Asian Development Bank, the pandemic likely pushed poverty incidence in the Philippines to 20 percent in 2020.

Through foodsheds, WWF-Philippines project manager Monci Hinay said communities can be assured of a stable food source while practicing ecologically friendly practices.

“As we celebrate World Food Day, we need to be reminded that as the pandemic continues, poverty and hunger are also prevalent among the poorest and remote communities. Through our foodsheds, we help change the bleak ending facing our kababayans by empowering them to become food secure in an environment-friendly way. Foodsheds represent the very best of our values – resourcefulness, helpfulness, pakikipag-kapwa, and bayanihan,” Hinay said.

Capable of growing a variety of crops with little cost to land or natural resources, each foodshed is an efficient and independent system. Employing technologies and practices like hydroponics, vertical farming and waste recycling, each foodshed provides communities with a wide variety of accessible food for less waste.

An important feature of the foodshed program is the introduction of agri-business, which helps communities generate income from their own produce, which also addresses the lack of income of community members. Through foodsheds, WWF-Philippines is building sustainable food systems that stretch from farm to plate.