NAGA CITY – Twenty groups including 18 barangays, one homeowner’s association and the City Agriculturist Office of this city who will engage in an intensified urban gardening project received package of assistance from the Department of Agriculture Bicol amounting to about half (P0.5) million pesos during a simple turn over ceremonies over the week at the City hall grounds here.

This is in line with the Ahon Lahat Pagkain Sapat or ALPAS Contra COVID 19 Program initiated by Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to make food available and accessible to every household amid the pandemic. This is also in consonance with the directive of Secretary Dar to implement an Urban Agriculture Program (MC No. 09) and to adopt a City or Municipality for Urban Agriculture (MC No.13).

Mayor Nelson S. Legacion personally graced the occasion which was also attended by DA Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Luz R. Marcelino and OIC, Chief of the Field Operations Division Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez and City Agriculturist Edna Bongalonta.

The package of assistance consisted of 200 bags or organic fertilizers; 60 sets garden tools; 60 pcs. bolos; 60 pcs. hand trowels; 60 pcs. hand sprayers; 1,000 pcs. seedling trays; 2,000 plastic polyethylene bags; 100 packs plant growth enhancer; 20 cans each of assorted seeds of ampalaya, tomato, squash, eggplants, polesitao, bell pepper and hot pepper.

The assistance were received by the team leaders or Barangay Agricultural Technicians designated by the City Government to help the City Agriculturist’s Office oversee the implementation of the Integrated Community on Food Production, a local initiative.

Mayor Legacion expressed his appreciation to the DA for its support to the city and to urban agriculture which is also a priority thrust of the city as he bared that the city was in fact planning to set up an urban gardening demo center and show window at barangay Balatas but due to some problem and issue on the proposed site the city has to look for another site. He also shared that the City Council has just passed a local ordinance as a measure against COVID 19 and one of the provisions of which directs those with idle lands within the city to utilize these lands for agricultural production ‘’…para masustinaran ang pangangaipo kan mga tawo sa pagkakan.” (…to be able to sustain the food requirements of our people).

Director Marcelino for her part explained that urban agriculture is an investment on family labor. She adds that it is also one way of environment management as the concepts of reusing, recycling and composting of urban waste can be incorporated and addressed.

Dr. Rodriguez who is also the Regional High Value Crops Development Program Coordinator overseeing the implementation of vegetable production projects including the Urban Agriculture program reiterated the need for every household to produce its own food. She said that the COVID 19 experience which is still upon us has shown that in times of crisis we have to rely on our own food source. “Maski may pambakal kita kung naka lock down o mayo man available na mababakal mayo kitang pagkaon magugutom kita..” (Even if we have the money if we are under lock down or there is no available food then we will go hungry)

She said that the total assistance package for each group/barangay is worth over P24,000 and it is hoped that more gains will be achieved from this investment. She reminded the recipients that the DA personnel will be closely monitoring the progress of the project and urged them to innovate and use recycled and biodegradable materials as an award or incentive will be given to the Best Urban Garden after the project evaluation. (Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS 5)