DAVAO DEL NORTE, Nov. 23 (PIA)- Flower and plant enthusiasts "plantitos, plantitas" are encouraged to become "vegetito and vegetita" advocates of vegetable gardening in communities.
In a phone patch interview this moring at the "Ang Gobyerno ug Ang Serbisyo" with anchor Edward Macapili, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles banked on ordinary folks and plant enthusiasts to establish the culture of vegetable gardening in every household.
"So the first contrition sa yanong Pilipino, pagtanum ug gulay, mahimong 'vegetito ug vegetita' kay importante kaayo ni sya aron masigurado nato ang tanang pamilya adunay access sa gulay. (.. is to plant and become vegetito and vegetita because this is important in ensuring that every family has access to vegetables.)," he said.
As head of the Inter-agency Task Force to End Hunger, Cabinet Secretary Nograles urged everyone to set vegetable gardening as part of the Filipino culture, and promote such during this pandemic when resistance to COVID-19 infection is of crucial importance.
"Kay unsa pamay panlaban sa COVID kondili atong resistenysa. Asa ta mokuha ug resistensya? Sa gulay. (What is our defense against COVID but (body) resistance. From what can we draw such resistance? From vegetables)," he pointed out.
"Wala na tay choice labi sa yanong Pilipino. (We don't have choice especially the ordinary Filipinos.)," he said.
Nograles expects barangays to fully support the gardening program which he cites as the most ideal especially during this pandemic. He also calls on them to promote the culture of gardening among their constituents.
Spaces for gardening won't be a problem as empty bottles and other throw-away materials can be recycled into pots to grow vegetables, he said.
Nograles recalled the mandate of cultivating gardens in every barangay or the Gulayan sa Barangay per directive released by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Gulayan sa Paaralan per issuance of the Department of Education (DepEd).
He cited such as among the major contributions to President Rodrigo Duterte's initiative to solve hunger in the country, that had been set in place even before COVID 19 came in early this year.
Meanwhile, Nograles said the IATF has spelled out a national food policy that organizes policies and treaty obligations of the Philippines to address hunger, pushes agri-sector productivity, and at the same time boosts income of farmers and fisherfolks.
The national policy on hunger also wants to make sure that malnutrition at various levels is checked; food is made available for all Filipino households; ensure equal access to and distribution of food; provides mechanism to sustain food availability even during pandemic and occurrences of calamities.
The national food policy integrates people participation as crucial to solving and addressing hunger. The national government intends to engage even the common folks in the bid to solve it, Nograles said.
On the other hand, the IATF to End Hunger is rolling out the Enhanced Partnership against Hunger and Poverty (EPAP) as means for national line agencies of the government to buy agri-food supplies directly from organized farm groups, skirting the middlemen.
Nograles said the program provides national government agencies access to farm and fishery products for their respective feeding programs. EPAP can also link government hospitals under DOH with farm groups to supply agri-products for their patients.
Currently the Bureau of Jail at the municipal, city and provincial levels have been accessing agri-products from various agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs), Secretary Nograles said.
"Wala na niagi sa middleman para ang kita didto na mga ARBOs. This is an example of EPAP under the banner program Task Force on Zero Hunger," he said.
The IATF to End Hunger also got actively involved during the immediate food relief assistance operation of the national government in typhoon-hit areas thru its "Pilipinas kontra Gutom" movement.
Stretching further its assistance this yuletide season, the movement has attracted private sector collaboration, bringing in the support of McDonalds, Dole Philippines, Coca Cola, Metro Bank , San Miguel Corporation, Johnson and Johnson, Unilever and Century Food, Nograles said.
It is gearing for the rollout of Noche Buena para sa Lahat project to provide food packs to those severely affected by the onslaught of recent typhoons. (PIA XI/ Jeanevive Duron Abangan)