German conglomerate Bayer put up a first-of-its-kind organic urban farm in Taguig City as a showcase of a sustainable farm that has a captured market in Conrad Manila which is a part of the Hilton hotel chain.
The 200-square-meter urban garden called “Bayer Kubo” near C5 Road in Pamayanang Diego Silang, Barangay Ususan, Taguig aims to contribute to meeting “zero hunger” one of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Bayer Philippines Inc. managing director Vinit Jindal said the urban garden was the first of a planned urban agriculture program of Bayer that could be replicated in other urban areas.
“With the Philippines’ growing population, urban agriculture will be important in food security,” said Jindal.
Conrad Manila general manager Laurent Boisdron said the hotel traditionally sources its supply of vegetables and herbs from the local market.
“We will now buy our vegetables from this farm. Yes we know the produce will be of high-quality with this partnership with Bayer and the community,” said Boisdron during the launch Thursday.
The project’s memorandum of agreement also includes Taguig local government unit and civic group Rise Against Hunger.
Rise Against Hunger executive director Jomar Flores said urban farms launched by other groups were later on abandoned. He said two major factors would contribute to the sustainability of Bayer Kubo.
He said the direct participation of the Pamayanang Diego Silang and the presence of a direct market in Conrad Manila are major factors to the sustainability of the project. The BCDA housing community in the area has 2,800 units with 62 buildings.
“We put up our first Food Bank [food storage centers for free distribution to urban poor] in Taguig City. Food banks will only succeed if it’s in an urban area, not rural. The food manufacturers are there [as food supply sponsors],” said Flores.
While it is difficult to organize scattered people in the boondocks, urban areas have the human density and urban poor consumers who need food and jobs.
Rise Against Hunger has 12 daycare centers in Taguig City where it regularly feeds children and has 500 member-families in its food bank.
Bayer is supplying all the needs of the urban farm―seeds, technical-agronomic assistance and training of people in financial-business operation.
Earwin Belen, a licensed agriculturist of Rise Against Hunger, said the Bayer Kubo program is using organic practices in the vegetable and herb farm.
“We’re using organic practices. We use vermicast as fertilizer from worm [waste]. We are training the resident-farmers on how to grow vegetables together with the DA [Department of Agriculture],” said Belen.
Bayer Kubo program will also train 30 registered volunteers from Pamayanang Diego Silang on preparing organic concoctions and fermented fruit juice as plant growth enhancers.
The aquaponics system that Bayer Kubo program is using is also efficient in both fish and vegetable production. It uses a one cubic meter tank to grow lettuce that produces 75 heads per cycle (5 to 6) weeks.
The vegetables are supplied with nutrients by the waste of the fish from the same tank that can grow 30 kilos of tilapia at a time.
Vegetables and herbs planted in the Bayer Kubo facility include eggplant, tomato, pepper, medicinal plants roselle, taheebo, gotu kola, tarragon, gotu kola, serpentine, basil, lemongrass and Thai garden tea.
Registered farmer-volunteers in the urban farm include 30 Pamayanang Diego Silang residents in medium-rise building community in the BCDA Housing, mostly senior citizens or retirees.
A multi-sectoral partnership supports the success of the program even as Taguig City itself has long been known to sustain its large tracts of profitable farm land despite urbanization.
“We have large tracks of land—hundreds of hectares for farm that have long been farm areas. We have a big production of melon in Taguig. We have kept our rice farms,” said Taguig environment officer Felix Catigay.
Taguig naturally has urban greenery program—containerized fruit-bearing trees and urban gardens—in idle areas identified by the city assessor’s office.
What makes the program more holistic is that Bayer is making Bayer Kubo, particularly referring to a sawali-bamboo structure conference center, an urban poor multi-program center.
The consumer health and pharmaceutical divisions of Bayer Philippines is also supplying free medicines, contraceptives and related products to the community that will support health and population control.
It will also provide training on family planning where Bayer has long been involved in successful community work even in other countries where it operates.
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