We’ve heard of “Build, Build, Build” ever since the beginning of the Duterte administration – but have you ever heard of “Plant, Plant, Plant”?
You’ve probably seen it in your social media feeds. A friend or a relative that never had an interest in plants suddenly starts posting about their hydrangeas or snake plants. Perhaps you’re even a certified plantito or plantita yourself.
Gardening and horticulture started to become a favorite hobby in the time of the pandemic. Maybe it’s a way of bringing the outside into our homes. It’s gaining popularity even in cities, and the demand only grows larger.
Capitalizing on a growing interest
The Department of Agriculture (DA) launched the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program amid this growing interest. Our farmers and fishers are the primary beneficiaries of this program. However, consumers and city-dwellers stand to benefit as well.
Also known as the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban sa COVID-19”. It is a nationwide initiative that lays out the strategy of the DA to address the pandemic. The program aims to increase food security by intensifying the use of quality seeds and related technologies. In addition, it also aims to strengthen the agricultural sector by mitigating the effects of the pandemic on our farmer’s livelihood.
The government is in full support of the agricultural industry. In fact, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allocated a total of ₱31B for this program. This budget will be used to improve the agriculture sector’s technologies and yields. In addition, it would also allow the consumer sector to explore farming in metropolitan areas.
Program starting to take root
“There are new technologies that can now be used by Metro Manila residents;
at tumutulong na po kami [rito] sa pamimigay ng seeds, seedlings para ma-start na ‘yung pagtatanim,” said agricultural secretary William Dar.
It seems that the DA wishes to capitalize on the burgeoning trend of urban farming in the time of COVID and bring more greenery into urban areas. In fact, a highlight development of the program is in Baguio City, where they launched just this September.
Roxanne Baeyens, Miss Philippines Earth 2020 and Baguio resident, led the launch of the program in the City of Pines. Through the program, she believes that idle lands in the city will be maximized, further contributing to the food security of every city.
“I have been a strong advocate of urban gardening … inspired by my mother’s home garden,” said Baeyens.
Sowing the seeds for a greener Philippines
Support for the program has been overwhelming. Senator Cynthia Villar, the current head of the Committees on Agriculture and Food, as well as Environment and Natural Resources, welcomed the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program, and pushed for comprehensive training to boost its effectivity.
“For this program to be effective, we cannot just distribute seeds and let the people plant on their own. We should also have a program that will teach them the know-how of planting. The strategy is to let people see that growing food is a joyful undertaking by helping them make their planting projects thrive,” said Villar.
Maybe this is the real start of a greener Philippines. Plantitos and plantitas are on the right path – they’re sowing the seeds for our country’s sustainable future.