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Villar calls for practical, sustainable programs for urban agriculture

By Vanne Terrazola

Published June 8, 2020, 12:39 PM

Published from: https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/06/08/villar-calls-for-practical-sustainable-programs-for-urban-agriculture/#disqus_thread

 

Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday called for “practical and sustainable” programs from the government for urban agriculture.

 

Sen. Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

 

Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the limitations in the country’s food supply and flaws in the distribution system, and highlighted the need for self-sufficiency among Filipinos.

“COVID-19 is an eye-opener for many people, not only in relation to our health, but the sufficiency and source of the food we eat, too. It made us realize how dependent and vulnerable we are when it comes to food. So much so that being food self-sufficient has become an important part of our life goals in the new normal,” she said.

“The lack of food was of course due to many factors—no money due to loss of income, no access to food due to closures of nearby stores or food outlets, and movement of food supply was hampered,” she added.

Echoing experts, Villar underscored the need to ensure that the “loopholes will be plugged by shifts in government priorities as well as people’s mindsets.”

“We have seen a renewed interest and enthusiasm in urban farming and backyard gardening. That’s a good indication and we should keep the momentum going,” she said.

Villar said the government should not stop in just promoting backyard gardening or providing seeds or fertilizers. “It should be supported by practical and sustainable programs and policies,” she said.

“We can empower people to grow or produce their own food as much as we can, but agriculture officials and policymakers should put in place a sustainable program to ensure that the people will not run out of food, with or without a crisis,” she said.

The senator cited the warning by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the COVID-19 pandemic will further disrupt food supply chains and adversely affect everyone, from farmers to consumers, and food wholesalers to retailers.

A centralized food supply chain can easily be disrupted by emergencies such as a virus outbreak, she quoted the UN-FAO as saying.

She said communities that practice integrated farming are less affected by the health crisis since they easily consume the food they grow at home when they lose their source of income or livelihood.

On top of that, they can also sell their crops or produce and earn money to buy other essential needs.

She said the UN-FAO also urged policymakers to ensure that the poor in particular have access to nutritious food by making food supply chains seamless and uninterrupted.

Villar has been pushing for the strengthening of urban agriculture and backyard gardening in the country, which she said are “the most effective way” to make sure that families will not go hungry during emergencies.

These will also ensure that people will comply with stay-at-home orders and other quarantine rules or new normal procedures, she added.


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