DILIMAN, Quezon City—The Department of Agriculture (DA) and its extension arm, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), led a ceremonial harvest event on May 29 to culminate the 2020 Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month.
The activity gathered key agriculture officials for a day of demonstration of urban agriculture practices and picking of fresh vegetables at the “ATIng Gulayan ng DA” demonstration site at the ATI Central Office compound. The undertaking aims to recognize the role of farmers and fishers in ensuring a food-secure nation, especially amid the global pandemic, and to create awareness on urban agriculture under the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program.
“During this pandemic, we see to it that food production continues to be pursued by the heroes in the countryside and there are the farmers and fishers who really are braving the environment brought about by COVID-19,” DA Secretary William Dar said during his opening speech.
Dar led the undertaking which featured a tour of the demonstration site to showcase different technologies on urban agriculture. These include the production of organic fertilizer and pesticide concoctions, mokusako, mushroom production, drip irrigation, nursery management, and plant propagation system.
ATI and the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering officials also launched the hydroponics and aquaponics demo area and talked about future projects towards technology development.
“ATIng Gulayan ng DA Demo Site serves as seedbank or source of planting materials that will be distributed as starter kits. We hope that through this site, urban agriculture will be replicated to more households, schools, and other communities and we, in ATI, are ready to assist by means of extension and training services,” ATI Director Alfredo Aton said.
During the opening ceremony, Dar and Aton turned over urban agriculture starter kits to the Caloocan City government as part of the Department’s metro-wide initiative to address food supply amid the threat of COVID-19. To date, over 2,500 starter kits were already distributed to different barangays and organizations in Quezon and Caloocan cities through this project.
The ceremonial harvest event started last year as part of ATI’s “ATIng Gulayan ng DA” Street Caravan to boost awareness on food production in the household level, particularly in cities and highly populated areas. The first two events were held in March and November 2019 with partner organizations and offices in the promotion of urban farming.
On May 26, Dar led the opening event of the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month Celebration at the DA Central Office, held simultaneously with the launch of the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program with actor-singer James Reid, the newly designated Food Security Ambassador. The celebration bears the theme “Pagpupugay sa Magsasaka at Mangingisda Natin, Tungo sa Sapat na Pagkain.”
The Department, together with its bureaus and attached agencies, continue to observe “new normal” measures in providing services to the farmers, fishers, and the consumers. For its part, ATI training centers nationwide launched a series of online and radio-based lecture series for the stakeholders in the countryside, including the AgriTalk Webinar Series on urban gardening and agribusiness which will start in July.
The ATI Central Office is also set to conduct free seminars through online media, starting September this year, featuring different agriculture production and processing technologies.