With the entire Luzon placed under an enhanced community quarantine, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has intensified efforts to promote urban agriculture by distributing free seeds and planting materials to ensure food availability amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The DA, through the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), has been distributing assorted vegetable seeds and planting materials to interested households in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the country. Each individual may receive five packets of vegetable seeds, which may be picked up from attached agency offices.

BPI Assistant Director Glenn Panganiban said they were already establishing community gardens in barangays with vacant areas so residents could plant and produce their vegetable requirements.

Seeds and planting materials being distributed include eggplant, tomato, upo, sitao, okra, upland kangkong, mustard, pechay, alugbati, saluyot and onions.

For March alone, Panganiban said they were able to distribute 50 kilos of seeds.

“We need to explore all strategies to ensure that food productivity, availability and sufficiency is attained, particularly in this challenging time,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said. “With the program, we hope to provide households, especially in metropolitan areas, the opportunity to produce fresh and healthy food from their backyard for their tables. This way, we can help them attain food security even beyond the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon,” he added. To complement the initiative, the agency has also established more Kadiwa outlets where consumers may avail themselves of agricultural commodities that are at least 20-percent cheaper than prices in public markets in Metro Manila. “We have engaged Pateros, Quezon City, Caloocan, Taguig and Pasig in the services of ‘Kadiwa on Wheels.’ The number is growing and in the next weeks, we expect more orders from other LGUs (local government units) in metropolitan areas,” said Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness Kristine Evangelista.Those interested in free planting materials can call the DA-BPI Office at (02) 8525-7313 or 8524-0837.

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