Press Release
May 9, 2020

Villar Pleased That Backyard Farming Flourishes During Community Quarantine

As a proponent of vegetable gardening or backyard farming, Senator Cynthia Villar is pleased that Filipinos now have a better appreciation and increased interest in growing their own food during the ongoing community quarantine.

"I am glad that more people are now seeing the benefits of planting vegetables in their own backyard. And I hope the growing interest will continue even after the quarantine is lifted," said Villar.

Senator Villar, the current chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, has long been advocating all forms of farming to ensure food self-sufficiency and security. She encourages people from all walks of life-the youth, OFWs, barangay residents and even drug surrenderees, to plant vegetables.

She has in fact several programs and projects that support her advocacy. She initiated the putting up of vegetable gardens in her home city of Las Pinas. As an incentive, she gives out prizes to the best barangay vegetable gardens every year. During the quarantine period, Villar has also distributed seed packs and organic fertilizer (from kitchen and garden wastes) to all the barangays in Las Pinas as well as nearby areas of NCR and Cavite and Bulacan.

"I really believe that if you grow your own food, you will not go hungry. Kapag may itinanim, may aanihin at kakainin [if you plant, you have something to harvest and eat]. That's how our parents lived and survived hard times before. Now, we appreciate it, we are going back to basics," adds Villar.

She cited that even global organizations Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) cite that the global pandemic has given rise to urban agriculture because of the disruption in food supply.

More than two-thirds of the world's population is forecast to live in cities by 2050 and urban agriculture is the key to feeding them. It is estimated that urban agriculture accounts for as much as 180 million tons of food a year or about 10% of the global output of pulses (rice, corn etc.) and vegetables.

Villar has also filed various bills in the Senate to support her advocacy. One of which is bringing back school-based vegetable gardening classes or what is called "Gulayan sa Paaralan" (Instructional Gardens). She filed Senate Bill No. 147 or the Instructional Gardens Act mandating the establishment of instructional gardens in all elementary and secondary schools, public or private, making it a requirement for the creation and issuance of permits for schools.

The bill aims to institutionalize the "Gulayan sa Paaralan" program to promote health awareness, good nutrition and help curb malnutrition. "We need to encourage the young ones to get involved in farming, which should be considered a life skill, because it really is. Even in other more advanced countries, they are teaching students to plant and grow their food. There are predictions that by 2050, or less than 30 years from now, we will run out of food. So, we all have to learn how to grow our food," said Villar.

Villar SIPAG's farms schools in Cavite and Bulacan also conduct regular training programs on vegetable gardening, urban agriculture, agricrops productions, organic farming, among many other agriculture-related courses. The senator also promotes the establishment of farm schools and learning centers nationwide to provide agricultural training to as many Filipinos as possible. These are supported by TESDA and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), which as of latest count already number to 2,532.

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