FARMERS of the Casili Farmers Association (CFA) in Barangay Casili, Mandaue City, have learned hydroponics farming and received organic fertilizers from the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas (DA 7) under a national program to increase food production that has also inadvertently enabled the city to reduce waste and save money.
The turnover ceremony was held Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 at the Casili Community Garden.
In his speech, Joel Elumba, DA 7 technical director for operations, said the activity was part of the National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Program (Nupap), a department initiative under the leadership of President and Acting Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to increase food sufficiency in urban areas.
Elumba explained the essence of encouraging urban residents to venture into urban farming, which, in time, could defeat the hunger problems in the nation.
“Magtanom ta gikan sa atong pamilya. Unya kung sufficient na, ang surplus modagan na sa atong mga kasilinganan, sa atong syudad, probinsya, hangtud na sa tibuok nasod,” said Elumba.
(Let’s start planting for our family. And then when it’s sufficient, the surplus will run to our neighborhoods, our city, province, until the whole country.)
Reduced waste collection
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said Casili farmers started cultivating the 2,000-square-meter farmland in 2021. It was only in January that farmers started to plant vegetables such as sponge gourd (sikwa), eggplant, camote tops, and more.
“The land (Casili Community Garden) is a private lot. But with the effort of our Casili barangay captain, he was able to secure clearance from its owners and turn it into a farm,” said Cortes.
Though unable to provide figures, Cortes said that with the project, they were able to transform more organic waste into fertilizers and use recyclable waste, such as plastic bottles, to serve as do-it-yourself (DIY) plant pots, which contributed to the city’s decreasing waste collection.
According to Cortes, Mandaue’s waste is 27 percent organic, 36 percent recyclable, 35 percent residual, and two percent special waste such as treated medical waste, sludge and grease trap waste.
Cortes said the decrease is beneficial as the city can pay less tipping fee or the fee paid for those who dispose of waste in a landfill and instead use the amount for the city’s infrastructure development, such as building more schools, concreting roads and pavements, and improving drainage.
City Agriculture Officer-in-Charge Sharon Magdadaro said they also plan to introduce the Nupap program in Barangay Paknaan and the Mandaue Learning Green Park (MGLP) in Barangay Umapad, which passed the program’s criteria of having at least a 1,000- to 3,000-square-meter demo farm area.
The DA introduced farmers to hydroponics farming, or the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil.
In a hydroponic system, plants are more densely spaced together, requiring less space than the size of land that would otherwise be needed to grow the same number of plants in a regular farm, which in return could enhance plant yields.
According to the Philippine Hydroponics Development Corp. (PHDC), around 120 hydroponic farms currently operate in the Philippines, with an annual production capacity of 800 metric tons. And hydroponic produce is said to be more profitable than traditional agriculture due to its lower input costs as it requires less space for production.
They added that hydroponic farms also do not require pesticides, so they have a negligible environmental impact.