The Department of Agriculture (DA) entered into a partnership between three private entities to scale up the implementation of the Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program in the country.
The agreement encourages sustainable crop production, through the establishment of more community gardens; and pushes for safe, available, accessible, and affordable foods to households and communities.
During the virtual ceremony, Agriculture Secretary William Dar signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Urban Farmers Sustainability Concepts Organization Inc., the Urban Greens, and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction.
Under the MOA, DA, together with the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will provide starter kits, which include seeds of common vegetables suited in the area, soil, and Polyethylene bags, as well as technical assistance and urban agriculture module for the individual or household beneficiary and establishment.
DA will also utilize the barangay, community, school, university, and public office gardens as venues for hands-on training to showcase various urban agriculture techniques. These areas will likewise serve as community gene banks to sustain their own production and planting materials for their constituents.
Among the latest partners of DA is the Urban Farmers Sustainability Concepts Organization Inc. of Bel-Air in Makati City, which is currently constructing a community farm right at the heart of the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to support the poor communities nearby.
Their proposal recently won first place at the #impaktwise Awards initiated by the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark for its innovative and realistic solutions, that is expected to bring in huge benefits for the local residents.
“The challenge for Metro Manila is huge, and with you spearheading the Urban Agriculture program, we are sure that others will follow.”
“We are delighted that the group has organized in such a way that we can work together. The more you are, the better. The challenge for Metro Manila is huge, and with you spearheading the Urban Agriculture program, we are sure that others will follow. We believe that UA has the potential and very substantial contribution in ensuring food security in our country, much more in Metro Manila,” the agriculture chief said.
The agriculture head added that farmers should consolidate and organize to maximize interventions from the government.
“Through consolidation, farmers will have better leverage in the prices of their produce and gain economies-of-scale,“ he said.
“We will continue to work with you and give guidance every step of the way. We know that you are professional and you have that tenacity and passion to put up and use up technologies with the best you could. It is very important to have young professionals like you in this program,” Dar added.
Meanwhile, the Urban Greens, an indoor farm founded in 2016 and located in Makati City, aims to revolutionize the food systems by producing cleaner, fresher and smarter greens through the hydroponic system.
“We expect commercial investors like you to really think big and do big.”
“This is an important investment from your end. I know that you have that foresight to really be commercially sustainable and to bring your produce to the Metro Manila markets. We expect commercial investors like you to really think big and do big,” he said.
The agriculture head said the Department, together with the Board of Investment (BOI) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has been discussing ways to provide agricultural investors incentives, including tax holidays for 2-5 years through the strategic investment priorities plan.
Meanwhile, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, a non-profit organization that works with over 50 countries, aims to build economic opportunities for rural people by making them self-sufficient and by improving their health, education, and environment by envisioning an environment of equity, justice, and peace.
“We believe in the capacity of IIRR and the objectives you are promoting through diversifying food systems which we are also embracing. I would like to believe that urban and peri-urban agriculture will serve as key areas to develop and promote food sufficiency. I thank you for institutionalizing this partnership with urban agriculture,” Dar concluded.