Sen. Cynthia Villar on Friday cited the need to include a “training component” to the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program of the government, which will be funded by a P66-billion stimulus package as mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address last Monday.
Duterte also stressed this project is in line with the objective to provide adequate, accessible, and affordable food for every Filipino.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, asked the Department of Agriculture to make sure that the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program includes a training component for it 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,” Villar said.
The DA, she said, should tap more than 20,000 farm schools all over the country to train the people how to plant.
She said training programs like the Agri-crops production, which the Villar SIPAG Farm School conducts three times a year in partnership with the East West Seeds Foundation, will help people have a head start in planting vegetables.
Before the pandemic, as many as 200 participants enlisted for the program, she said.
Students, senior citizens, young professionals, members of religious and civic groups, community leaders, and many more have availed of this free training for three months with 12 sessions and culminated in a graduation and harvest activity.
Now, the program has been modified to properly observe the needed health protocols. Only 20 participants are accommodated and until further notice, young people, the elderly, and those with health issues are discouraged from participating in the program.
“We can also do online training to cover more ground. We also encourage our agri-crops graduates to start giving online tutorials to family and friends on the basic instructions on home gardening,” Villar said.
Training programs on urban agriculture, Villar added, will also teach people how to plant in small spaces and containers and how to start vertical gardens.
The senator has been pushing for home gardening and urban agriculture as a food security strategy that will make sure people have sources of food in times of calamity or health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.