Growing own food will be the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19

As COVID-19 exposed the sorry state of the country’s agriculture sector, a lot of Filipinos will feel the need to grow their own food within their houses.

This is called urban agriculture wherein people resort to home gardening for their steady supply of staple vegetables.

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Director Glenn B. Gregorio said during a webinar that despite the odds due to the global pandemic, the COVID-19 lockdown has opened opportunities for urban agriculture.

“It is unfortunate that COVID-19 has not only raised food price but also threatened nutritional security for Filipino consumers,” said Gregorio.

“Nevertheless, the global health crisis brings about a change in perspective of consumers. They have now become interested in urban agriculture — even producing their own food from their backyards — no matter how small,” he added.

During the webinar, Garry Hidalgo, general manager of the Farmers’ Factory, also said that no matter how small residences are, city dwellers can still find a space for urban farming.

Under the the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) “Plant, Plant, Plant” program, the government will be setting aside nearly ₱2 billion for its urban agriculture project and revitalized gulayan project.

This involves the distribution of free seeds to households and the establishment of vegetable gardens in public areas and idle lands in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and schools.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the government eyes 10 to 15 percent of the area of Metro Manila for urban farming, a move that will beef up food security level in the National Capital Region (NCR).

For its part, SEARCA, along with its partners, is also facilitating the distribution of high-quality seeds to not only provincial but city dwellers interested in urban farming.

According to the organization, it will likewise beef up the supply of seeds of the DA and its attached agency Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The quality of seeds, Gregorio said, is the foundation of good soil cultivation and farming.