Aimed at promoting household food security during the Luzon-wide community quarantine through the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) urban agriculture program, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) distributed a total of 1,373 starter packs composed of 51 grams of assorted vegetable seeds; 1 Kg Bioganic and mushroom compost; 1 Kg Urea, 400 grams Trichoderma, and seedlings as home garden inputs to Baguio city residents from March 30 to May 12.

Aligned with DA’s Plant Plant Plant Program (4P’s) which ensures sustained food production and availability, food accessibility and affordability, and price stability amidst the threats of COVID-19, the bureau complemented the regionwide seed distribution of DA Cordillera- High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) supplemented with basic fertilizers and simplified Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials for household farmers.

Agriculture secretary William Dar, stressed that urban agriculture is a practical and effective measure towards stable food supply in every household. According to him vegetable gardens can serve not only as source of food, but also as additional income for those who will sell their surplus production in nearby markets. “Food security is important in combating Covid-19. If there is no food, it’s difficult to resist diseases. That is why it is the DA’s priority to keep every Filipino healthy and full,” Dar added.

Today, BPI has provided 50 starter packs each to 16 barangays in the summer capital including Military Cut-off, Gibraltar, Upper Quezon Hill, Happy Homes, West Modern Site, Gabriela Silang, Victoria Village, Pinsao Proper, Upper and Lower Dagsian, Lualhati, Outlook Drive, Ambiong, Mines View, Kias, and Greenwater. More than 758 walk-in beneficiaries have been provided with the seed and fertilizer set at the BPI compound, Guisad, Baguio City. Fifty home gardening sets were also handed over to the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), Sagada Safe’s Garden Group with 65 starter packs, and City Agriculture Office with 100 sets.

According to Ma. Arlene Celo, Agriculturist II, the activity was an initiative of BPI center chief Jesus Aspuria aiming to provide a comprehensive seed-fertilizer starter kit with IEC materials packaged to equip home farmers with knowledge on fertilizer usage, plant disease control, pest management, and planting materials throughout the farming process.

“Home gardening is helpful to suffice every family’s food consumption. We can do this while working at the same time use household wastes like “Arasaw” or rice wash as a foliar fertilizer. Through this we can have an alternative source of food other than buying,” stated Celo.

Meanwhile, Marsela Balentag, Guisad resident, expressed her high hopes to reap good harvest with the bureau’s home gardening inputs. She stated that receiving a seed-fertilizer package with simple instructional materials will empower parents, siblings, and simple housewives in producing their own food. “Mayat nga usaren dagitoy inted ti gobyerno tapno mapadasan tayo no kasano iti rigat na nga agmula ken maammuan no kasano ti agproduce ti sarili tayo a makan (We are glad to use these inputs provided by the government so we could experience the challenges of farming and learn how to produce our own food),” emphasized Balentag.

The BPI Baguio provides fresh vegetables weekly to vulnerable groups specifically senior citizens during the pandemic. Recently, the bureau distributes lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and button mushrooms produced at the compound to barangays Upper Dagsian, Greenwater, and Lower Dagsian.

Assorted vegetable seeds such as cabbage, eggplant, garden pea, radish, cauliflower, mustard, snap beans, and many more are available every Monday and Thursday. Seedlings including Patola, Cucumber, and tomato are scheduled for distribution every Tuesday. // Mac James Dacillo //

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Photo Courtesy: BPI Baguio