MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has partnered with the city government of Manila to promote urban agriculture and household food security.
During the visit of DA officials and executives of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno at the Manila City Hall on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar discussed their Urban Agriculture Project.
“Kahit may sakit or pandemic like this, dapat kakain tayo (Even if someone is sick or during pandemics like this, we need to eat). So whether we like it or not, food production must continue. So sabi natin, what can we do for urban areas like Metro Manila? Sabi ko, let us realign the budget so that we can start right away itong urban agriculture (I said, let us realign the budget so that we can start this urban agriculture right away),” Dar said.
He said the lockdown period is the best time to promote the project while people are staying at home observing quarantine protocols.
Dar said the department is pushing for vegetables that are easy to plant and can be harvested in a short time.
“We are doing this now nationwide in all metro cities around the country and of course backyard gardening sa mga kanayunan (in the countryside),” he said. “We will have to sustain these efforts. We will empower yung mga (the) urban poor.”
Dar said the BPI would focus on Metro Manila while the ATI would be in charge of providing training, which is currently being done online due to the community quarantine imposed by the national government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
He added that if there are available spaces in the city, small animals could also be raised.
“To some extent, maybe there are parts in the city na pwedeng mag-raise ng native chicken or small ruminants, wag lang muna baboy siguro. Marami pa tayong problema sa baboy, like the African swine fever (To some extent, maybe there are parts in the city where one could raise native chickens or small ruminants, maybe not pigs because we still have problems with hogs, such as the African swine fever),” Dar said.
Meanwhile, Domagoso told the DA officials that the city government is always willing to collaborate with national agencies, most especially in efforts to ease the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He noted that the DA Kadiwa Rolling Store Project, which connects farmers directly to consumers, has been a big help to the city in decreasing foot traffic, especially in markets, during these critical times.
Domagoso encouraged everyone to support the projects of the DA to help sustain food security in the country.
“Sa lahat ng mga kababayan natin sa buong Pilipinas, especially sa mga highly urbanized like the Metro Manila, let’s plant, plant, plant on all our open, available space (To everyone, especially those in highly urbanized cities like Metro Manila, let us plant, plant, plant in all our open, available space),” he said.
The DA also distributed vegetable seedlings to the informal settlers living at the in-city relocation site in Paradise Heights, Barangay 128, Smokey Mountain in Tondo. (PNA)