TACLOBAN CITY – It used to be a vast idle land.
But instead of making it into a garbage dump, a group of farmers in this city decided to transform it into a vegetable garden.
Last December, they planted it with palay or rice grain and vegetables including kangkong and pechay.
Their produce are ready for harvest this month, said 65-year-old Welefartos Bodaño, president of the Vegetables Farmers Association (BVFA), composed of 29 members, 18 of whom are women.
Bodaño said the vegetables they planted would be sold in the market, which would provide them extra money badly needed in this time of pandemic.
The one-hectare lot in Barangay 101, located north of Tacloban, is part of the 24-hectare agricultural land covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
The project dubbed “Buhay sa Gulay” aims to promote urban farming, reduce poverty, and eradicate hunger, particularly in marginalized urban barangays.
The program is also in line with the “Plant, Plant, Plant program” of the national government to ensure food security during the pandemic.
Bodaño, a mother of nine children, said they were supposed to make a harvest in January but failed to do so due to heavy rains.
With an improved weather, she said they expected to finally have their harvest within this month.
“This will be a big help for us especially during this time of pandemic,” she said.
The city government will help the vegetable growers sell their produce to the market, among other forms of assistance.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Brother John Castriciones said the urban farming project is not a dole-out but a self-help to start-up livelihood project where concerned government agencies and organizations would converge to share resources and enable the urban farmers to produce and eat vegetables and provide them with additional sources of income.
DAR Undersecretary Emily Padilla said that the “Buhay sa Gulay” program aims to identify vacant lots that could be planted with vegetables.
“If we can use idle lands to plant vegetables, at least 20 percent of our food needs will be addressed,” she said.
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