Gov’t wants to expand prison ‘veggie gardens’ to 100 hectares
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) are expanding an urban agriculture program meant for inmates with the possibility of extending this to communities around correctional facilities as well.
Glenn Panganiban, assistant director of the DA-supervised Bureau of Plant Industries (DA-BPI), said in a statement plans were underway to expand the “Bagong Buhay sa Gulay” coverage for up to 100 hectares, with the help of the private sector that will continue to provide seedlings, pest management and technical assistance.
The project currently covers 10 hectares of land planted with eggplant, tomato, chili pepper, coffee, banana and pili.
Earlier this week, the DA and the BuCor agreed to cooperate with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in implementing DAR’s “Bagong Buhay sa Gulay” project and complementing a DA-BuCor urban agriculture initiative at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City that kicked off last May.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar called on the four agencies to sustain and expand the project, which first started with 2.5 hectares, and continuously produce vegetables as a source of livelihood and income not just for the inmates, but also for other residents in Muntinlupa.
“Let us upscale this project and make it big to create an impact in Muntinlupa,” Dar said. “It should focus not only on vegetables, but also include fruits and ornamental plants, as well as raising small ruminants like goats and sheep and chicken,” the DA chief said.
Under the project, DA-BPI will provide quality seeds, planting materials and other inputs, while DAR serves as the lead project implementer and funder. Tesda will conduct training for inmates who will tend and sustain the vegetable gardens.
The DAR also committed to replicate the NBP-Muntinlupa project in other BuCor facilities nationwide through the DA’s National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Program.
The DA chief said urban agriculture has the potential to produce about 15 percent to 20 percent of the national food supply.
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