A mixture of urban agricultural production technologies can enable cities to produce their own food, complementing the government’s efforts in the countryside to maintain food security in the country, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that urban agriculture can provide additional source of fresh and safe food and extra income for urban residents, among other benefits, during the launching of DA’s urban agriculture project in Las Piñas City on February 4, 2015. The project is implemented in partnership with the DA Regional Office for CALABARZON, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Office of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
Among the production technologies proposed by DA are edible landscaping, green riprapping, aquaponics and container gardening.
Norby De La Cruz, a resident of Las Piñas and a container gardening enthusiast cited the benefits his family has gained from urban agriculture.
“On the financial aspect, we are able to save since we no longer have to buy some of the vegetables, herbs and spices we need in our kitchen,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz also mentioned that during emergencies, they have a ready source of food. He likewise shared that having more plants in their house gives them more fresh air, and that gardening has become his way to exercise and contribute to the clean and green program of the city.
Secretary Alcala stressed that urban agriculture may not be able to produce all what city dwellers need but this is a way to increase awareness on agriculture and the government’s programs to ensure food security.
“Through urban agriculture, we can demonstrate that a small space can be maximized; so how much more with lots of open spaces we have that are not being used? We also want those from urban communities to participate in agricultural production. This way, city residents can be assured of ready source of food, especially vegetables when their supply and distribution get affected by unforeseen events and force majeure in the nearby production areas. This is not to mention yet the contribution of urban farming to improve biodiversity,“ Alcala said.
Senator Cynthia Villar, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food added that urban agriculture can also help the Philippines cope with the challenges of climate change, being the most disaster-prone country in the world.
“If we plant our own sources, we would be assured of food supply even when disaster hits us and supplies from the countryside cannot be delivered to Metro Manila,” Villar said.
One of the highlights of the project is the strengthening of the Gulayan sa Paaralan in public schools. Alcala said that he has lobbied for vegetable gardening to be restored in the curricular or extra-curricular programs of public schools believing that children should be exposed and educated early on the value of agriculture and caring for the environment.
“Through this project, we also hope to enhance the aesthetics of urban communities, improve solid waste management, improve nutrition, and reintroduce the practice of ecological living within cities,” Alcala said.
After the launching, DA will conduct periodic assessment in its pilot areas and will send teams to follow up and conduct organic farming seminars, and deliver other forms of logistical and technical support.
The program shall also be launched in other Metro Manila cities and other major urban centers in the country.