2 urban farmers from Mandaue City take home national awards, prizes

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Friday, February 8, 2013


POTTED vegetables hang around the house of Rogelio Sulad in Sitio Aroma, a poor neighborhood in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City.

Eggplants and bell peppers line the wooden balcony that provides a sweeping view of Metro Cebu’s skyline.

Outside the two-story house, beyond a wire fence, tangkong or swamp cabbages cover a tiny plot of land.

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Last Jan. 24, 56-year-old Sulad won in the urban farmer category of the national search for outstanding farmers. Alma Rosell, a 57-year-old resident of Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue City, took the second prize.

The search was organized by the Universal Harvester Inc. and the Junior Chamber International (JCI).

Sulad won P50,000 while Rosell received P25,000 during the awarding ceremony in Makati City.

Recycled materials

Sulad started growing vegetables in January last year, after the City Agriculture Office organized a seminar on urban gardening in their neighborhood.

Because he lives in a slum where houses are built side by side, Sulad decided to plant vegetables in recycled cans and sacks. He now grows 14 kinds of vegetables in 154 pots.

Sulad, who hails from Zamboanga del Sur, said he earns extra by selling vegetables to his neighbors. He does not have a regular job.

He offers tank-cleaning services to raise his wife and five children.

Last July, he won in the container gardening category of a gardening contest organized by the City Agriculture Office. Rosell won in the backyard gardening category.

The two were nominated for the national search after winning the contest.

Butch Mateo, JCI vice president for external affairs, said 111 farmers all over the country joined the search. “One of the criteria in the search is the farmer’s sense of social responsibility,” Mateo said.

Aside from gardening at home, the City Agriculture Office also promotes community gardening.

Productive land

Subangdaku Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad said he established a community garden in support of Mayor Jonas Cortes’s advocacy on urban farming.

Manatad turned a two-hectare idle land owned by the Telecommunications Office into a vegetable garden with the help of 35 gardeners.

“We also have community gardens in the sitios,” Manatad told reporters yesterday. “By having this garden, we encourage our residents to eat vegetables at a time when instant foods are rampant.”

Vegetables in the garden are grown organically, using vermin compost, cow manure and chicken dung as fertilizer.

Manatad said many are buying vegetables from them, but they cannot keep up with the demand because of the garden’s limited space.

But he said vegetables grown on the community garden are primarily for the consumption of the gardeners.

Benefits

Paknaan Barangay Captain Malaquias Soco said the City Agriculture Office conducted a seminar on urban gardening in their sitios early last year. “Nagbunga gyud ang maong effort (The effort bore fruit),” he said.

One of the residents who took advantage of the knowledge provided in the seminar was Rosell.

The full-time housewife developed a vegetable garden in her backyard. “Nakatabang gyud ko sa mga silingan kay makapangayo man sila og utanon nako (I am able to help my neighbors because they can sometimes ask for vegetables from my garden),” she said.

For Sulad’s part, growing vegetables enabled him to provide fresh and safe food for his family and neighbors. He has also inspired his neighbors to grow their own vegetables.

“Kung naa kay kakugi sa pagpananum, naa kay anihon (If you have the drive to plant, you will have something to harvest later),” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2013.

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