Goverment-led urban gardening project benefits NCR residents

Around 345 families in 19 communities in Metro Manila are reaping the benefits of an urban gardening project organized by two agencies of the Department of Science and  Technology (DOST), as it serves as an alternative food source amid the pandemic.

Through the Gulayan sa Pamayanan project, the DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and DOST-National Capital Region, distributed urban gardening materials and trained residents in Metro Manila on two technologies –  Enriched Potting Preparation (EPP) and Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP) Hydroponics.

EPP is a technology that only requires recyclable soft drink bottles as plant pots, a potting medium, coco coir, and the compost soil extract (CSE), which provides nutrients to herbs, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

SNAP hydroponics uses recycled Styrofoam boxes, styro cups, growing media composed of coco peat, carbonized rice hull, saw dust, and fine sand, plus the SNAP A and B nutrient solutions, which similar to CSE, they provide nutrients to the plants.

The DOST said a total of 3,950 EPP kits and 2,350 SNAP kits have been distributed to the communities through the project.

In addition, 180 bags of compost, 55 pcs of tower/vertical garden with EPP vessels, eight coco coir net greenhouse, 1,000 liters of CSE, 100 sets of SNAP A and B Solutions, and 10 packs of plastic lining were also distributed to 345 families.

DOST-PCAARRD Executive Director Reynaldo Ebora said project beneficiaries were selected based on the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology or CEST program of DOST, which hopes to provide livelihood and alleviate poverty in remote communities.

“The Gulayan sa Pamayanan project was initially identified to assist the seven communities; however, this number ballooned to 19 communities, which is still aligned with our goal to increase vegetable availability in Metropolitan areas,”Ebora said.

Among these 19 communities are Muntaparlas (Brgy. CAA, Las Piñas; Brgy. BF Homes, Phase 3, Parañaque City; Don Bosco, Parañaque City; Doña Rosario Heights and Paradise Garden group of Sucat, Muntinlupa City; and GAD, MCTI, Putatan, Muntinlupa City), Pamamazon (Brgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila; Claro M. Recto High School, Brgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila, and Brgy. Pildera, Pasay City), Pamamarisan (Brgy. Nangka, Brgy. Concepcion, THAI, Brgy. Concepcion Uno, Fortune, and CEMO of Marikina City), and Camanava (Brgy. Pasolo, Brgy. Balangkas, Brgy. Tanza 1, and Brgy. Tanza 2, Navotas City.

Barangay Sucat Chairperson Raffy Sevilla, a beneficiary of the Gulayan sa Pamayanan, said that through the project their community was provided an alternative food source amid the pandemic.

He added that through facilitated effort of DOST, they were able to secure seedlings of different vegetables, which they distribute to the community.

For his part, Arlu Cabañero, a teacher at Pasolo Elementary School, said the project allows him to create awareness among his Grade six pupils regarding agriculture and food production.

He added that he was also able to gain knowledge on the different methods and technicalities of urban gardening, which he also shared with his community.

Arlyn Godinez, community leader of Paradise Garden in Brgy. Sucat, Muntinlupa City, shared that their 43 members who are all beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps were able to obtain materials as well as knowledge in gardening.

She said they are also able to sell some of their harvest, which provides them an opportunity for more income.

The DOST said that the two technologies featured in the project were developed locally.

Retired professor from the University of the Philippines Los Baños Eduardo Paningbatan, Jr. developed the EPP while Primitivo Jose Santos and Eureka Teresa Ocampo of UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) developed SNAP Hydroponics.