SORSOGON CITY – To promote vegetable production in public elementary and secondary schools the Department of Agriculture (DA) launches the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP) in this city to signal the re-launch of this DA- and Department of Education (DepEd) joint undertaking nationwide. Participating schools will establish school gardens as ready food baskets or source of vegetables in sustaining the schools feeding program especially for the malnourished or undernourished school children. The DA will spearhead the implementation of the program and provide the production inputs such as seeds, organic fertilizers and garden tools and facilitate the conduct of trainings. The excess vegetables harvested could be sold by the school to generate income for the sustenance of the project.

Some 90 School heads and officials from 60 elementary schools and 30 secondary or senior high schools from the different municipalities of Sorsogon attended the launching activity cum training on vegetable gardening and nursery establishment held at the DepEd compound here on August 16.

Provincial Governor Robert Lee Rodrigueza personally graced the occasion and affirmed his support to the project saying that agriculture and education are priority thrusts of his administration. He added that Gulayan sa Paaralan also compliments his program for the province on nutrition, waste management and tourism. The provincial government as one of the partners of this program will help in the implementation and monitoring of the program through its extension workers and may also provide assistance and resources

Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, DA’s Officer-in charge of the Field Operations Division and Regional Coordinator of the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) explained that Gulayan sa Paaralan which is under the HVCDP also aims to address malnutrition among school children by promoting the production of nutritious and safe foods. It will serve as a laboratory for students to know and apply their knowledge on vegetable production and showcase small –scale food production models. It will also inculcate among the students the values of gardening, wellness and care for environment.

In addition to the assorted vegetable seeds, the DA will provide each participating school 14m PE-UV Tunneling Film (2.7mx 6mm x100m); 27m fine net (1.5 yards x 90y); 25 pieces seedling trays (100holes); 1 bag organic fertilizer and 1 piece each of hoe, rake, sprinkler, and shovel.

Aside from establishing a vegetable garden ina 200 sq. meter area , the school shall establish a seedling nursery enclosed with plastic where the vegetable seedlings will be germinated in trays before they are transplanted to the seed plots/beds.

Dr. Rodriguez announced that as an incentive to the participating schools two best “Gulayan projects in the province will be chosen and given awards at the end of the cropping period.

Assistant Division Superintendent Jenny Postrado urged the school officials and teachers to support this program and inculcate among the children the value of farming and the importance of good nutrition. As a show of support to the program she asked the participants to show the thumbs up sign while declaring “ thumbs up for green thumb” to urge everyone to plant vegetables and other crops.

After the opening program, Nestor Nava, the provincial Vegetable Coordinator started his lecture on Vegetable production and Cultural Management and Seedling Nursery Establishment.

On same occasion the DA through Dr. Rodriguez turned over to Jose Dellosa, President of the San Juan East Person with Disability association of Sorsogon City . Dellosa who is blind due to diabetes received assorted vegetable seeds. In addition, the association will receive the tunneling film for their proposed greenhouse.

The GPP was implemented by the DA and DepEd since 2007 and its implementation was strengthened in 2016 . The program prescribes the participation of parents and other members of the community in the conduct of educational programs related to nutrition education, basic pest management, food preservation techniques, composting and environmental conservation among others. (EMILY B. BORDADO)