Mayor wants promotion of urban gardening amid pandemic

GUAGUA Mayor Dante Torres is optimistic that the current free time accorded to many by the ongoing quarantine restrictions and work-from-home schemes could be used to promote urban gardening instead of the commercialized decorative and rare plant propagation that impacts on rare plant species.

He said there should be a gradual shift to urban gardening specifically the production of vegetables and plans for personal food consumption.

Torres said that such effort will greatly help in ensuring stable food source for families amid the pandemic and promote healthy lifestyle.

"We have been actively distributing seeds and plants to our urban dwellers and rural folk to help in this program. The free time afforded by this pandemic could be used to create a different mindset and promote sustainable home-based farming," the mayor added.

Torres, through the Municipal Agriculturist of the town and the Department of Agriculture, recently distributed vegetable seeds as well as free-range chicken to several households in a bid to jumpstart the interest on urban gardening.

In fact, the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued Memorandum Circular 2019-129 on August 9, 2019, calling on all mayors and governors to promote organic gardens in their respective areas based on the provisions of the Philippine National Standards for Organic Agriculture.

The DILG issued the circular in response to the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) Resolution 14, Series of 2019, asking the DILG, through its Gulayan sa Barangay Program, to establish organic gardens.

The NOAB is the frontline agency in the implementation of the Republic Act 10068, also known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

The law was approved and signed on April 6, 2010. According to the said law, organic agriculture includes all agricultural systems that promote the ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible production of food and fibers. It covers soil fertility management, varietal breeding and selection under chemical-free conditions, and the use of biotechnology and other cultural practices that are consistent with the principles and policies of RA 10068. It excludes the use of modified organisms or GMOs.

According to the NOAB, local government units (LGUs) have a pivotal role as frontliners in the implementation of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

LGUs can come up with ordinances and resolutions that would institutionalize local Organic Agriculture Programs as strategies to solve concerns on food security, environment, health and wellness and poverty alleviation.

And with about 80 percent of the poor population in rural areas dependent on subsistence agriculture, according to the Department of Agriculture, organic gardens can well address issues on food security.

The DILG and NOAB are looking at the integration of the organic gardens into the pre-existing Gulayan sa Barangay Programs. The Gulayan program is among the hunger mitigation efforts of the government to encourage communities to become self-sufficient by producing their own food. This is also seen as an answer to affordability issues in food production as well as issues of food security, environmental concerns and climate mitigation.


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