Freeman Region

Australia envoy: Sustain backyard gardening

Ric V. Obedencio - The Freeman

PILAR, BOHOL, Philippines — Australian  Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely visited Pilar town in Bohol and expressed concern on the sustainability of the Landcare Program of this town, where backyard gardening of vegetables and fruits is taking place, particularly at Barangay San Carlos.

Gorely inquired how the town sustain and get youth involved in the program, during her interaction with municipal and barangay residents and their officials led by Mayor Eugenio Datahan.

Datahan agreed that the program should be sustained, adding that it is one of the finalists of the Galing Pook award last year and Pilar being the only 4th class municipality to achieve such feat. He expressed gratitude to Gorely and company and Australia for extending assistance to Pilar for the program.

Municipal planning officer Joy Anania, one of the prime movers of the program, said that part of the program is the organization of the youth, considering that Bohol farmers are declining in numbers because their children lost interest in farming in exchange of “better” jobs outside of agriculture.

The program is officially called Productivity Improvement thru Landcare and Agricultural Resources Development and Management (or PILAR DAM).

Professor Andrew Campbell, chief officer of Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), was however impressed with the program to help ensure food security.

One of the program strategies is the organization of barangay farmer technicians into a small land care group, consisting of 25 farming clusters, which is aimed at livelihood and environmental conservation undertaking of the members.

The Municipal Agriculturist Office — having only four technologists and no agricultural extension workers — had to train the farmers to become technicians or extension workers.

Gorely saw for herself the different vegetables and farm produce displayed by each farmer cluster. She and her personnel also inspected the backyard garden of Cipriano Curiba, 56, who cultivated and rented a half-hectare of land in San Carlos.

Anania told the ambassador that Curiba was able to have his two children graduate in college. Curiba grows a variety of high-value crops such as ube, ginger, eggplant, bell pepper, tomatoes, paliya and many more. Anania said marketing his produce was no problem as the buyers will just go to the barangay to haul the goods.

Another farmer relying on farm vegetables is Justiniano Celeres whose farm is near Curiba’s. He said gardening is more productive than rice farming. “Bintaha ang gardening,” which enabled him to earn as much as P70,000, he added. (FREEMAN)

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