Urban gardening pushed to boost domestic food supply
In an attempt to cushion the possible adverse effects of the new coronavirus disease on the country’s food security, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would intensify campaigns and programs on urban gardening.
The move is to ensure stable food supply as people resort to panic buying of basic food items and medical supplies especially in Metro Manila, where most of the verified cases of COVID-19 were recorded by the Department of Health.
“We need to promote proper implementation of urban agriculture in the metropolis so that when there is tightening of food supply from the provinces, there will be enough in urban areas as well,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
The agriculture chief has instructed the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to improve their collaboration with local government units (LGU) in promoting urban agriculture especially in schools, barangays, government offices and even corporate buildings with rooftops.
BPI Assistant Director Glenn Panganiban said in an interview with the Inquirer that they have been going around to distribute seeds and provide trainings all over the metropolis to encourage more people to grow their own produce.
“There are a lot of crops that we can plant here in the metro. We have leafy vegetables, sili, tomato and other root crops. These plants are low maintenance and can easily grow in a month or two,” he said. “The goal is to ensure food security but eventually, this could also provide a livelihood opportunity.”
The threat of COVID-19 continues to hover over urban and rural localities and has prompted some LGUs to suspend classes following the declaration of the state of public health emergency.
Nonetheless, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a text message to the Inquirer that the virus has yet to affect the agriculture sector and assured that there have been no gaps in the country’s food supply.
“We have ample supply of rice. Chicken prices are going down and fish and vegetables are not problematic,” he said.
“This is a proactive measure that we are undertaking and would be a continuing project. This is not just about the COVID-19 but an initiative to make more food available. We are only readying ourselves for worse scenarios,” Dar said.
He added that the country has enough rice supply to cover national demand for 80 days while the agency continues to monitor prices of basic agricultural commodities that are covered by the new suggested retail price bulletin.