Amidst the distressing ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic, some groups of women and youths remain cheerful and full of positivity as they join the Taranuman Project in the 3rd district of Albay.

The Taranuman (Bicol dialect for Planting) Project is an initiative of Albay 3rd district Representative Fernando Tibor Cabredo which engages rural women and youths in developing idle lands into productive communal vegetable gardens. The project was originally started in 2016 by then Cong. Fernando Gonzales to help stay at home housewives earn added income and was continued by Cong. Cabredo when he won the last elections.

The 3rd district of Albay is composed of the municipalities of Ligao City; Libon, Polangui, Oas, Guinobatan, Pio Duran, and Jovellar.

Each of the over 140 barangays of these municipalities has a women’s group dubbed as “Women Planters” with members ranging from 30 up to over 100. Each women’s group maintains a minimum of one hectare communal vegetable area where they plant vegetables, rootcrops and legumes such as sweet potato, corn, peanut, ube, pechay, radish, string beans and other crops.

In the beginning, Cong. Cabredo’s staff buy their produce. But nowadays, each group took advantage of the social media and are now selling their produce online. They also have their common social media platform which is Rep. Cabredo’s and the 3rd district’s official webpage –, where they can post their planting activities and promote their agricultural products.

To support these women and youth planters, the Department of Agriculture High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) headed by Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez has turned over a total of P 1.4 M interventions for the women and youth planters under FY 2020 budget. These consisted of 177.55 kilos of assorted vegetable seeds, 100 pcs seedling trays, 2,400 grafted pili seedlings, 3,000 pili seedlings, and 3,000 coffee seedlings.

On July 30, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla personally visited the vegetable areas of the Women Planters of Guinobatan and saw the vast potential of the six organized barangay associations of women which include the People’s Organization of Barangays Balete, Pood and Palanas. Director Tornilla committed to deliver more assistance to these groups to develop the upland areas of Guinobatan.

The Taranuman Project has benefited the 3rd district communities as housewives are earning additional income from selling their produce. The project also promotes women empowerment by highlighting women’s role in agriculture, promotes health and nutrition as the families are assured that the food they eat are not contaminated. The women’s shared activities such as planting and harvesting brings a sense of satisfaction and ‘feel good’ vibes which help them fight this pandemic.

One very active group is the Women Planters of Muladbucad Grande in Guinobatan, Albay composed of 29 members who are all housewives of farmers. This group has been featured in local and national TV when they, together with Cong. Cabredo, personally brought 25 sacks sweet potato and various vegetables to the victims of Taal volcano eruption in February 2020. Janet Pielago, focal person of the group said that the said donation came from their vegetable gardens and the camote cuttings and vegetable seeds as well as fertilizers came from Cong. Cabredo. She added that at present, and to abide by health protocols, they divided themselves into smaller groups and took turns in cultivating their communal garden wherein they recently harvested raddish. Pielago added that most members are presently focused on individual backyard gardening due to the threat of the COVID-19 virus. They plan to plant sweet potato again in their upland areas where there are wide spaces.

Dancing youths encourage fellow youngsters to farming

The Taranuman Project also involved the youths through collaboration with the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in the various barangays. As they are quarantined at home and are not allowed to go out during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, they were encouraged to maintain their individual backyard gardens.

To add more color to gardening, Cong. Cabredo launched song and dance mini-contest among these youth groups. Some SK composed their own songs and music videos which were uploaded in Rep. Cabredo’s official webpage and were featured in the local television.

One SK group, the SK Nasisi in Ligao City composed an original Filipino music video entitled “Tara Kabataan Taranuman na Kita” to encourage more young individuals to take part in the Taranuman project. The music video featured the dancing SK members while planting vegetables. A line in the song said “Gagalaw ka lang ba kung matanda ka na? Ba’t di mo gawin ngayon habang maaga pa.” Tara na magtanim. Lungkot mo’y binubura, dahil masaya ito.

Truly supportive of the agriculture sector, Cong. Cabredo authored House Bill 7439 or An Act Developing the Root Crops Industry in the Bicol Region, which will create the Crops Research and Development Center and will infuse subsidy funds for rootcrops development.

As Albay is frequented by typhoons and drought, the solon banks on the potential of rootcrops such as camote, cassava and peanut as disaster resilient crops to give livelihood opportunities for his constituents.

The recent PSA data showed that Bicol region is the largest contributor of sweet potato in the country registering 12% growth from last year’s production of 62,974 MT to this year’s production of 70,645 MT. The bulk of sweet potato production came from Albay.

(By Lovella P. Guarin / DA RAFIS 5) (Photos from FB of Cong. Fernando Tibor Cabredo, grabbed with permission from Ms. Shai Cabredo)