Cebu News

Vacant lots in the city eyed for gardening

Kristin De Dios - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — With the success in creating People’s Farm at South Road Properties, Cebu City Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. has drafted an ordinance that vacant lots in each barangay will be transformed into a garden.

This mandates that the uncultivated land will be cultivated by the barangay in negotiation with the owners.

Alcover said that the owners can also have consideration regarding their taxes, especially that the tax of idle lands is more expensive.

These idle lands in each barangay will also help their goal in strengthening the food security of the city by making it a garden that produces vegetables.

“Gamay raman gud atong bukid, gamay ra atong agricultural area, whereas atong maggamit ang mga idle lands sa mga barangay, makatabang gyud siya,” said Alcover.

He added that the residents will principally benefit with this project.

The People’s Farm at SRP was launched last month to strengthen food security which helps aid hunger issues in Cebu City.

Alcover, who chairs the committee on agriculture, said in a forum that this is one step to alleviate the food and hunger problems of the city by promoting its agri-tourism project.

"Usa na sa atong gihimo para masulbad nato although damgo raman kaayo nga dako nga sulbaron ang kagutom pero at least matabangan ang atong siyudad sa problema sa kagutom," said Alcover.

He also added that the number of farmers in the city has diminished yet the figures of the food consumers are increasing.

Currently, a 3-hectare lot at SRP is functional where vegetables are grown. The committee is eyeing to make the estimated 20-hectare idle lot in SRP to become a farm as well.

Meanwhile, about 8,000 employees in the City Hall are undergoing basic orientation on urban gardening. The farmers are given free fertilizers and seedlings.

Their next plan is to visit each employee to check if they have applied what they have learned from urban gardening to their household.

“Bisan tangkong, sibuyas, but at least makit-an gyud nato nga aduna silay gihimo pagpalapad sa ilang nakat-unan sa urban gardening,” said Alcover.

Alcover added that this is his committee’s way to realize Mayor Michael Rama’s plans.

“Akoang gihimuan og ngipon ang programa sa atoang mayor na kinahanglan gyud ang mga empleyado involved,” said Alcover.

In People’s Farm, consumers can “pick-and-pay” to their desired vegetable at a cheaper price than those from the market. Consumers can choose the vegetable of their choice straight from the soil and pay for their purchased products.

The vegetables can also be sold to public markets in the city.

However, Alcover assured that the farmers in the upland are not neglected and they are not competing against them.

“Wala nato biya-e ang bukid, when in fact, sa bukid ato silang gi organize into cooperative. All farmers in the organization sa kabukiran ato silang gitabangan,” said Alcover.

They also provide these farmers with free fertilizers and seedlings to continue their food production.

Food security summit

In celebration of the Food Security Summit 2023 in the city, the council organized a farming contest to 29 departments who participated in the event.

The winners will receive a cash prize. The proposed budget for the grand prize winner is P100,000; P75,000 for the second prize; and P50,000 for the third prize.

Meanwhile the non-winning departments will receive a consolation prize of P25,000.

Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia and other five city councilors are also participating in this event.

These include Phillip Zafra,  Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros, Nestor Archival, Jocelyn “Joy” Pesquera, Edgardo “JP” Labella II, and Francis Esparis.

After the competition, departments who do not want to pursue farming, the land they occupied will be given to private sectors who wish to farm at SRP.

“Atong gi encourage ang private sectors nga kung adunay muangkon og luna didto among tagaan,” said Alcover.

Rama spearheaded this event which is one of the activities he made to make each idle lot in the city become a food basket.

As the idle lot in SRP was able to produce vegetables, the council will continue to replicate this program to other places in the city.

“Others would say, ‘di na katuboan oy kay reclamation gud na’ but with technology and with good advice nahimo ra gyud siya and we will replicate that,” said City Administrator, Atty. Collin Rosell.

Rosell added that they will have partnerships with different agencies to insight people to farming to have food security. —  CNU Intern (FREEMAN)

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