More Ilocano women are getting interested in home gardening to ensure there is a steady supply of staple vegetables.
With the global threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, “growing your own food” has become the new normal for some women of the north, making use of any available space to shorten food trips to the market.
Verginia Jose, a mother of two boys from Barangay San Guillermo, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, said she felt the need to plant more vegetables in her yard to ensure there is always food on the table even without making a regular trip to the market.
In Laoag City, another single mom, Agnes, from Sta. Angela village, gathered some plastic containers, placed garden soil, and planted seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant and okra.
No matter how small your garden is, city dwellers are now trying to find ways to grow their own food with the rising cost of basic commodities since the Covid-19 lockdown.
Under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) “Plant, Plant, Plant” program, the government has allocated some PHP2 billion for its urban agriculture project and revitalized the Gulayan (vegetables) project.
At the DA’s Ilocos Norte Research and Experiment Center (INREC) in Batac City, employees are currently distributing free vegetable seeds and seedlings to interested individuals who wish to start a vegetable garden.
To date, close to 2,000 individuals or households and 339 groups benefited from the free seeds and seedlings distribution to beef up food security in the region.
Aside from walk-in clients, the DA INREC has also distributed a total of 50 trays, 179 sachets/packs and seven cans of various vegetable seedlings and seeds, such as squash, ampalaya (bitter gourd), finger pepper, eggplant, pechay, string beans, and okra to various local government units of Sinait in Ilocos Sur, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, including the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City, among others.
“It pays when (you) grow your own food,” said Wilma Viernes on Monday, as she harvested string beans and tomatoes from her container garden which she planted last weekend of April.
To assist urban agriculture beginners, the DA and other concerned agencies and seed companies are giving agriculture tips online, such as how to plant different kinds of vegetables, how to make organic fertilizer and pesticide, among others.
With the onset of the rainy season, the DA is inviting other interested individuals to get their share of free vegetable seedlings and be part of the government’s Plant, Plant, Plant (PPP) program.
DA-INREC station head Wilma Ibea said their huge nursery for vegetable seedling production in Batac City is open from Mondays to Fridays for those who wish to join the government’s PPP program. (PNA)
Photo Source: Leilanie G. Adriano