DOST's Gulayan sa Pamayanan: Bringing a Bountiful Harvest to the Entire Metropolis
The adverse effects of the CoVID-19 pandemic profoundly added to the woes, not only to developing countries like the Philippines, but also to the global community's healthcare systems, food supplies, and economic trends. True to its vision of using "Science for the People", DOST has introduced a science and technology-based concept to metropolitan communities to address the growing problems on food supply and livelihood that have made the lives of Filipinos harder in the midst of a pandemic.
"Ugat ng Paghahalaman"
To provide livelihood and ensure food security among communities during these challenging times, DOST-NCR, in partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), started implementing the "Gulayan sa Pamayanan (GSP)" Program in June 2020 as part of the strategic response and support to Metro Manila communities.
Through the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) Program, DOST-NCR initially identified seven communities, and later on added 12 more communities, who would be receiving hands-on training on urban gardening techniques such as Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP) Hydroponics and Enriched Potting Preparation (EPP).
The 19 communities in the GSP program are Brgy. CAA, Las Pinas; Brgy. BF Homes, Phase 3, Paranaque City; Don Bosco, Paranaque City; Dona Rosario Heights and Paradise Garden group of Sucat, Muntinlupa City; and GAD, MCTI, Putatan, Muntinlupa for the MUNTAPARLAS CASTC; Brgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila; Claro M. Recto High School, Brgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila, and Brgy. Pildera, Pasay City for the PAMAMAZON CASTC; Brgy. Nangka, Brgy. Concepcion, THAI, Brgy. Concepcion Uno, Fortune, and CEMO of
Marikina City for the PAMAMARISAN CASTC, and Brgy. Pasolo, Brgy. Balangkas, Brgy. Tanza 1, and Brgy. Tanza 2, Navotas City for the CAMANAVA CASTC.
Communal gardens were established in each community with the help of 122 volunteer workers. A total of 3,950 EPP kits, 2,350 SNAP kits, 180 compost bags, 42 pieces of tower/vertical garden structures, eight coco coir net greenhouses, 1,000 liters of compost soil extract, seeds, and IEC materials were also distributed to the 345 family beneficiaries.
Moreover, the project provided 25 hands-on training sessions which taught 250 beneficiaries how to properly care for and maintain EPP and SNAP kits. In addition, seven online seminars were conducted where 1,195 participants attended.
"Gulayan sa Pamayanan, Kayamanan ng Bawat Mamamayan"
During a virtual presser titled, "Urban Gardening: Sharing of Experiences and Impacts from the Beneficiaries" which was held on 25 August 2021, four community beneficiaries shared their experiences and the benefits that they have gained from the Gulayan sa Pamayanan Program.
The testimonials came from a woman community leader of Brgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries of Paradise Garden in Brgy. Sucat, Muntinlupa City, local government unit (LGU) of Brgy. Balangkas, Valenzuela City, and an educator from Pasolo Elementary School, all of whom acknowledged the impacts of Gulayan sa Pamayanan and how the program changed their ways of life. Since June 2020 up to July 2021, the 19 communities have already generated an income of up to P200,558 from the produce of their respective gardens, which mostly consisted of lettuce, mustasa, and pechay.
"Women Empowerment through Urban Gardening"
Sustainable development requires the promotion and participation of women who have historically played critical roles in communities. Filomena G. Cinco, chairwoman of Brgy. 412 and President of the "Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Legarda", stressed their gratitude to DOST-NCR for giving them the opportunity to learn sewing and urban gardening skills such as seedling production and propagation, management of pests in plants and crops, and preservation of excess harvest. Most of their constituents were displaced and lost their jobs during the pandemic, which made livelihood projects like the GSP very timely. Chairwoman Cinco further shared that the Gulayan sa Pamayanan project not only brought great improvements to their community but also to their organization because of the continuing assistance provided by DOST-NCR.
On the other hand, Arlyn Godinez, President of Paradise Garden and one of the 43 4Ps members of Gulayan sa Pamayanan in Brgy. Sucat, Muntinlupa, revealed how the assistance and materials for urban gardening from DOST-NCR changed their community especially during the pandemic. From the produce of their own gardens, they were able to earn additional income for their families of up to P5,000 monthly. Brgy. Chairman Raffy Sevilla also expressed his gratitude to DOST-NCR's assistance which provided both livelihood and safe and nutritious food to his constituents.
Along with the "women power" vision, Ms. Anita Pascual, a former barangay health worker and current leader of the Win Mother Community Group in Brgy. Balangkas also shared that through DOST-NCR's assistance, they were able to encourage and form communities of women, solo parents, youth, and men in their community.
She also spoke about the project's benefit to her personal experiences since she became a part of their community garden. Despite her age, Ms. Pascual's happiness lies with urban gardening which has also made her children proud of what she is into. Moreover, their community also received a 'bioreactor' unit, a technology developed by DOST- Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), which helped them in waste composting and solid waste management.
"Gulayan sa Paaralan"
Urban gardening is not just for backyards and vacant community spaces; the Program is also applicable in schools. Arlu Cabanero, Gulayan sa Paaralan coordinator and educator from Pasolo Elementary School, spoke about the various benefits that they get from community gardening. Born and raised in a family with farming as main livelihood, Teacher Arlu expressed how he embraced the idea of gardening in urban areas, specifically when the opportunity knocked on their learning doors.
With his passion in teaching, the Gulayan sa Paaralan became one of his ways to encourage his students' interest in planting and agriculture as well as appreciate its importance to the community. Teacher Arlu extended his gratitude to DOST-NCR and DOST-PCAARRD for the urban gardening skills and technologies which gave them additional knowledge in planting procedures and preservation that they could share with other communities.
"Gulayan sa Pamayanan, Itaguyod para sa Kaunlaran"
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De La Pena admired the 19 communities for their response to DOST-NCR's and DOST-PCAARRD's program, for exerting their full efforts and for their enthusiasm which led to the successful implementation of the Gulayan sa Pamayanan Program. DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang lauded the project's impact and benefit in addressing inadequate food supply and the loss of livelihood among the selected communities.
DOST-NCR Regional Director Jose B. Patalinjug III mentioned that the Department continues to work on procedures and techniques that will help further improve the process of urban gardening. DOST-PCAARRD Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora assured the participants that the Gulayan sa Pamayanan Program, which is under the Good Agri-Aqua Livelihood Initiatives towards National Goals (GALING-PCAARRD) Program, will continue with its mission to bring advanced technologies in improving food security and production especially in the regions.
To conclude the event, Dr. Juanito T. Batalon, Director of PCAARRD-ARMRD, said that he was looking forward to fostering stronger partnerships between private and public sectors in the field of urban agriculture, not only in the Metro, but also in the entire country.