Barangay residents and officials in the 720 barangays of Albay are now prepping up their sidewalks and streets with ornamental and edible plants as the provincial government resume the implementation of the Albay For Beautification, Clean and Green Program (AFBCGP) which was launched last October 7, 2020 but was hampered by the parade of typhoons that ravaged the province in the last quarter of 2020.

This program aims to beautify, maintain cleanliness and sustain food production through gardening, edible and non- edible flowering plants along highways, provincial roads and barangay streets; thereby keeping a fresh, attractive and healthy environment.

The 18 LGUs of the province already signified their interest to be part of this program and aspire  to  win in the “Search for the Outstanding Barangay” under this program. The categories include Outstanding LGU, Php250,000.00; Outstanding Barangays—1st prize, Php175,000.00, 2nd Prize, Php150,000.00, 3rd Prize, Php125,000.00 and Consolation prize of P5,000 for all non-winning barangays; and Most Outstanding City or Municipal Agricultural Officer, Php100,000.00. The awarding ceremony will be scheduled this May 2021.

Albay provincial agriculturist Che Rebeta said that this program was a brainchild of Governor Al Francis Bichara to make the province clean, green and vibrant as it moves towards the new normal.

The 2,162 clustered puroks will be managed by the newly-organized Albay Family-Based Volunteers (AFBV) headed by the barangay chairmen, council members and assisted by the community facilitators and partner provincial offices.

Rebeta said that participating barangays will both practice basic gardening and edible landscaping. They can use ornamental plants, herbs, and other medicinal plants which can produce attractive, aesthetically pleasing and functional streets and this  activity might inspire the youths to appreciate agriculture and love for the environment. This program is also a practical strategy for climate change adaptation for which  the province is known for.

Assistant Provincial Albay Agriculturist Hilda Lopez disclosed that the municipalities of Polangui and Malilipot already allocated their own budget in support to the program. Both municipalities have their own inter-barangay and inter-purok contest based on said program.

Dubbed as “Floral Tourism” of the province, this program is in partnership with the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Tourism (DOT), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla expressed support through allocation of vegetable seeds and garden tools to the program which is in line with the food security mandate. “When the plants bloom, it means that life in Albay is moving forward and rising above the pandemic and calamities in a colorful fashion,” Rebeta concluded. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from APAO community facilitators)