DepEd, SEARCA empower Rizal province with sustainable food production training

THE Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division of Rizal in partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has empowered Rizal province through sustainable food production for schools and communities.

A groundbreaking initiative conducted under the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) in Rizal, the training was held at Tomas Claudio Memorial Elementary School and Morong National High School in Morong, Rizal.

SEARCA director Glenn Gregorio said the training aims to establish home gardening as a cornerstone for improving the food and nutrition security of schoolchildren and their families in the province.

At least 50 participants including school heads, Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP) coordinators, Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) department heads, barangay officials and parents attended the training.

Gregorio said the training "provided a dynamic platform to delve into sustainable agricultural practices."

At the start of the training, Morong sub-office public schools district supervisor Grace Ancheta emphasized the crucial role of empowering local communities through sustainable agriculture and highlighted the potential for lasting positive impacts on the region.

In addressing immediate nutritional needs and improving long-term health outcomes for children and families, SEARCA Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD) head Gerlie Tatlonghari also provided additional insights, highlighting the significance of the SEL4E project.

SEARCA-RTLD program specialist Anna Gale Vallez also provided a comprehensive overview of the SEL4E project, shedding light on its strategic focus.

"The initiative aims not only to impart knowledge but also to actively involve building partnerships among local government units and agencies, enhancing educational capacities, and promoting sustainable farming practices deeply rooted in the community," Vallez said.

SEL4E project technical consultant Antonio Flores 2nd and resource person-facilitator Justin Paolo Interno facilitated discussions with modules that covered crucial aspects of sustainable agriculture such as agroecology, container gardening, waste management, soil fertility, seed saving, vegetable production techniques and garden ecology management.

The training also engaged participants in garden tours and hands-on activities such as soil testing, land preparation, transplanting, hydroponics and preparation of natural farm inputs.

Flores closed the session encouraging participants to reflect on their experiences and actively engage in collaborative planning for the future of community gardens in the province.

Expressing her gratitude, Tanay-Sampaloc National High School headteacher Alegria Belga noted that the training has equipped and inspired the participants to contribute to the success of the school and community gardens in the province.

Vallez also stressed the importance of a sustained collaboration among its stakeholders for the future of schools and community gardens in the province.