DOST launches gardening tech to boost food security in NCR
News | Jazryl Galarosa
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched on August 5 its urban gardening technology through the Gulayan sa Pamayanan program to improve food security in the National Capital Region (NCR) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gulayan sa Pamayanan introduced the Enriched Potting Preparation (EPP) technology developed by Dr. Eduardo Paningbatan Jr., a retired professor of soil science at the UPLB College of Agriculture. The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) saw the potential of EPP to provide food and nutrition during the lockdown.
Gardening for everyone
EPP has three components: a container made of a recyclable plastic bottle, a porous and nutrient-rich potting medium, and a compost soil extract (CSE) fertilizer to nourish the plant and to sustain several cropping cycles. With a nutrient-rich CSE fertilizer and a toxic-free potting medium, EPP is designed to provide everything a plant needs for growth, assuring households of a healthy organic produce.
With the Gulayan sa Pamayanan seeking to provide health and nutrition and economic development, the EPP technology opens business opportunities as it aims to boost food security. Through DOST-NCR, a total of 2,650 EPP kits and more than 100 bags of compost were given to the barangays and communities in Metro Manila.
“The Enriched Potting Preparation or EPP technology will not only provide nutritious food to these communities, but will also give them additional income. Sadyang malaki ang maitutulong ng Gulayan sa Pamayanan sa mga communities na maaabot nito,” Brenda Nazareth-Manzano, undersecretary for regional operations in DOST, said.
DOST secretary Fortunato dela Peña stated in a virtual presser that everybody especially those in urban areas having difficulties in sustaining food could adopt the EPP technology to improve food security.
“Hindi mo kailangan ng malaking lugar. Kung mayroon kang access sa sikat ng araw at pwede mong ilagay ‘yong taniman mo doon, pwede mong magamit ang EPP,” Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, executive director of DOST-PCAARRD, said.
Jose Patalinjug III, regional director of DOST-NCR, added that online and video media would be efficient in conducting information drives, so anyone can learn urban gardening despite the imposed lockdown measures.
“Hindi natin kailangan magkaroon ng face-to-face training dahil sa mga limitasyon nga natin sa quarantine. Isasalin lang natin ‘yong mga videos na ‘yan sa mga cellphones. Kahit anong oras, kahit anong araw nila gusto balikan [ang mga] topics o pamamaraan, nasa palad na nila,” Patalinjug said.
DOST-PCAARRD will continue to promote community urban gardening through the establishment of communal gardens with the help of the Industrial Technology and Development Institute, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Bureau of Plant Industry, and local government units in NCR.
In line with the Gulayan sa Pamayanan, DOST-PCAARRD plans to expand its Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP) hydroponics as part of their urban gardening technology. SNAP hydroponics is a low-cost hydroponics system for soil-less vegetable production suitable for small spaces common in urban areas.
Dela Peña assured that the programs under DOST will continue despite the modified enhanced community quarantine, adding that they are prioritizing projects with technology that would help urban communities.
“Nang sa ganon ay hindi lamang masiguro na ang ating pagkain ay supisyente kundi tayo rin ay makarecover sa ating economic activities,” dela Peña stated, emphasizing the need of spreading the knowledge of agriculture in urban communities.
Dr. Rowena Guevara, undersecretary for research and development (R&D) of DOST, lauded the efforts of DOST-PCAARRD in promoting urban agriculture to strengthen food security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Patuloy kami sa DOST sa pagsubaybay at pagsuporta sa PCAARRD para sa pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura, aquatika, at likas na yaman sa bansa. Ang mga teknolohiya na alay ng GALING-PCAARRD (Good Agri-Aqua Livelihood Initiatives towards National Goals) ay hango sa masusing pag-aaral o R&D. Isang patunay na ang R&D making change happen,” Guevara ended.
Under the GALING-PCAARRD Kontra COVID-19 program, the Gulayan sa Pamayanan is also part of the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program which aims to help marginalized communities through interventions in science and technology. As of June 2020, around 365 communities have benefited from the CEST program.