By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged fellow Filipinos to support urban farming initiatives to help his administration in addressing threats to food security.
Marcos made the call, as he lauded the collaborative efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in launching the Halina’t Magtanim ng Prutas at Gulay/Kadiwa Ay Yaman/Plants for Bountiful Barangays Movement (Hapag Kay PBBM) at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium in Manila.
“As this initiative consolidates the programs of these two agencies on urban agriculture, I am confident that we will further increase our capacity to take part in our goal to address poverty, ensure food security, and protect the environment even at the barangay (village) level,” Marcos, who concurrently serves as DA secretary, said.
“I am thankful for the preparations that you have made not only in setting up this activity, but also in committing to sustain the success of the whole program, not only for now, but in the coming years,” he added.
The HAPAG KAY PBBM is an urban agriculture program that merges the DILG’s HAPAG sa Barangay Project and the DA’s Green Revolution 2.0: Plants for Bountiful Barangays Movement (Luntiang Ani ng Mamamayan).
It aims to increase the villages’ capacity for sustainable agriculture; encourage local government units (LGUs) to recognize the importance of urban agriculture; boost the production of fruits and vegetables in homes and communities; and promote urban agriculture technologies nationwide.
Marcos emphasized the importance of public cooperation to enable the country to overcome “present and future challenges” in attaining food security.
“I would also like to ask the Filipino people to support this program so that we can help our communities recover from rising prices, the impact of calamities, and the other threats to food security,” he said.
“As your President and the Secretary of Agriculture, I assure you that your government will continue to provide support to local government units to enforce this program. Rest assured that this government remains committed to providing our people with access to fresh, nutritious food at an affordable cost.”
‘Innovative’ solutions to address hunger
While there are existing urban farming projects, Marcos also emphasized the need to pursue more “innovative” measures to eliminate hunger in the country.
He hoped that interactive programs on food security would give all Filipinos a “better, more bountiful and food-secure future.”
“We must continuously come up with more innovative solutions to address hunger and make nutritious food available to every Filipino,” Marcos said.
After delivering a keynote speech, Marcos had a tour of the Hapag PBBM urban garden at the Rizal Park’s Burnham Green.
He also visited the Kadiwa pop-up stores which sell foods and agricultural products at a cheaper price.
Marcos, in a speech during the launch of the “Kadiwa ng Pangulo” program at Rizal Park, ensured that his administration is focused on ensuring that no Filipinos will go hungry under his watch.
“Kailangan talaga namin gawin ‘yan, dahil hindi natin pababayaan ang ating mga kababayan. At sinabi ko na, ilang beses ang aking pangarap sa aking administrasyon ay sana ay wala ng gutom na Pilipino (We have to do that because we will not neglect our fellow countrymen. I have repeatedly said, my dream under my administration is that there will be no more hungry Filipinos),” he said.
More Kadiwa stores
The rebranded “Kadiwa ng Pangulo” was first launched in Cebu City on Feb. 27 to continue the success of the “Kadiwa ng Pasko” that was initiated during the Christmas season.
A farm-to-consumer market chain, the Kadiwa ng Pangulo aims to continue providing avenues for consumers to purchase affordable local farm products and commodities while at the same time allowing local producers to generate higher income by eliminating intermediaries.
During the launch of Kadiwa ng Pasko in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Marcos vowed that his administration would install more Kadiwa pop-up stores, noting that there are already over 500 outlets nationwide.
“Ito po ay pinaparami po namin. Hindi lang po rito sa Santo Tomas, hindi lang po sa Maynila, kung hindi pati na sa iba’t ibang lugar sa buong Pilipinas (We will set up more stores not just here in Santo Tomas, not just in Manila, but also in other parts of the Philippines), Marcos said.
From Nov. 5 to Dec. 31, 2022, Kadiwa activities generated around PHP136.1 million in sales nationwide, according to DA report.
Mega manufacturing plant
Meantime, Marcos also welcomed the inauguration of the Mega Manufacturing Plant in Batangas, saying it would contribute to government efforts in ensuring food security and generating more jobs and economic opportunities for Filipinos.
The project would upscale the agriculture operations in the country, Marcos said, adding that it would contribute to the achievement of the government’s target of a 10-percent annual increase in approved investments in the agribusiness sector.
Marcos said the Mega manufacturing plant also supports the administration’s initiatives to fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the areas of No Poverty, Zero Hunger, and Decent Work and Economic Growth.
“The inauguration of this facility comes at a time when we are navigating the waters of the new normal and recovering from the losses incurred from a global pandemic,” Marcos said.
“This will greatly contribute to our efforts in ensuring food security and making seafood more convenient to consume for families across the country, especially during times of crises,” he added.
The facility, which had its groundbreaking in 2020, is intended to enhance Mega Prime Foods, Inc.’s production and strengthen its presence in Luzon. It will provide livelihood and business opportunities for Filipinos, particularly local workers and suppliers from Batangas province and its neighboring areas.
The Mega manufacturing plant occupies an area of 20,000 square meters, with 3.6 hectares (ha) of land and 2.4 ha of building and warehouse located along Maharlika Highway in the City of Santo Tomas.
It has state-of-the-art production machinery, a world-class research and development facility, a cold storage facility, and a modern steam-dry fishmeal plant.
The plant could process 50 metric tons (MT) of fish per day, adding 600,000 cans of sardines daily to the entire production line, which could also increase the country’s canned sardines’ production capacity by nine percent.
Currently, Mega has two plants in Zamboanga that can produce 2.4 million cans of sardines per day. It owns the largest fishing fleet in the country and has been in the export market for over 20 years. (PNA)