MORE than 100,000 various vegetable and fruit-bearing tree seedlings were distributed since July 2021 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the City of San Fernando and its various provincial and community offices to local communities in Central Luzon to ensure food security amid the global pandemic.

Executive director of DENR in Central Luzon Paquito Moreno Jr. said the distribution of vegetables and fruit tree seedlings is part of the pandemic response of the government to secure food for local communities and promote urban forestry.

“This pandemic has greatly affected our communities and many of our people lost their jobs. We came up with this strategy to reach them out and ease somehow the economic impact of this health crisis,” he said.

He added that the DENR worked closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force and has activated its Modern Mechanized Forest Nursery (MMFN) in Tarlac to produce various vegetable seedlings like string beans, pechay, okra and eggplant.

“Although it was intended primarily to produce seedlings for our country’s reforestation programs, we saw the potential of the MMFN to provide much-needed help to our citizenry in the face of the pandemic,” he added.

The DENR has also set up various “community plantree” in the region and gave away over 90,000 seedlings of various fruit trees, including kasoy, avocado, sampaloc, duhat, mangga, rambutan, guyabano, bignai, narra, fire tree, molave and bitaog to promote urban greening and environmental stability.

Community plantree is inspired by the community pantry movement in the country but instead of giving away free foods, fruit-tree seedlings were given away to communities.

“Aside from ensuring food security, we make sure to maintain the health standards of our employees,” Moreno said, adding that over 1,000 regular and contractual employees of the DENR-Central Luzon have already received Covid-19 vaccine.

The DENR has also continuously enforced safety protocols and regularly conducts disinfection within its respective offices and provided its employees with alcohol, face mask and vitamin C to ensure continuous delivery of public service.