Urban agri ‘new normal’

The Philippines has enough food supply to last until yearend, but measures are being studied in anticipation of changes in the export of goods once the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is contained.

As the country ushers in the “new normal,” experts are looking at urban agriculture to solve an impending food security problem in the post-lockdown era as the health crisis continues.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) said urban agriculture approaches like containerized and modular farming strategies are ways to channel concrete solutions to food security.

SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio said the “new normal” brought about by the pandemic has firmed up SEARCA to utilize technology-mediated platforms to effectively deliver valuable services to its stakeholders — farmers and the public.

“Solutions to food security problems abound so we are offering SEARCA as a gateway for this information to be made more accessible to farmers, farming families and farmer organizations,” Gregorio said.

“We want to use (the Internet) as a venue to expound on the importance of transformational change to systemically revitalize agricultural systems and strengthen food systems,” he added.

To recall, the Department of Agriculture (DA) recently intensified its promotion of urban agriculture through the distribution of free vegetable seeds and planting materials nationwide to ensure food availability and sustain production.

“With the program, we hope to provide households, especially in metropolitan areas, the opportunity to produce fresh and healthy food from their backyard for their tables. This way, we can help them attain food security even beyond the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period in Luzon,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

The DA, through its Bureau of Plant Industry, distributed assorted vegetable seeds and planting materials to some 548,750 households in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the country.

It also tapped the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to conduct training that will further enhance the skills of farmers in agricultural production and food value chain under the “new normal.”

Dar and TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapeña have agreed to craft a training design that will specifically address the emerging needs of farmers in terms of skills development to cope with the current national state of emergency and Luzon-wide ECQ.