LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – Filipinos are eating less vegetables, according to a three-decade survey done by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
In 1978, each Filipino consumed 145 grams of vegetables per day. Three decades later, in 2008, intake had dropped to 110 grams per day.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, cited these and other data in her report titled “Agro-Ecology for Sustainable Agriculture and Environment toward Food Security.” She delivered her lecture at the Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Seminar Series of the government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
In view of the country’s unfavorable vegetable consumption picture, the government – through the Departments of Health (DOH), Education (DepEd) and Agriculture (DA) – has over the years been implementing programs to promote vegetable production and consumption among Filipinos.
In her lecture, Villar noted that the DOH is promoting vegetable gardening among Filipinos. “By planting vegetables in our backyard, we can have our own supply and even have opportunity to earn from it,” she said.
At the seminar, SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. also reported DepEd’s school-based food and nutrition program.
Saguiguit said the program was designed to improve school children’s nutritional condition and dietary habits. Specifically, it aims to increase the knowledge and skills of students and teachers on food production and nutrition through experiential learning activities that would instill the importance of agriculture and the use of green technologies.
Likewise, DA has its Gulayan ng Masa program, a hunger mitigation project that promotes integrated home and school gardens in rural areas. It aims to reduce hunger and improve nutrition through the promotion of school, backyard and communal gardens, information campaigns, and provision of training and seeds.
The program, which involves local government units and other departments, is now being assessed by SEARCA. It covers about 30 provinces from the Cordilleras to the Visayas region, and Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao.