CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) on Wednesday proposed PHP1.2-million worth of funding as an upgrade to its existing Urban Community MicroFarm (UCM) project.
In an interview, Angeli Collera, head of USTP's Center for Human Development (CHD), said the proposal targets to improve the current UCM set-up of vegetable or crop grow houses with a hybrid water supply system for hydroponics, the art of gardening without soil.
Collera said the proposal was tackled last year with the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) non-research and development projects division.
"We are already working with DOST-MisOr (Misamis Oriental) so that everything will be in place, and it will be submitted to the technical panel for deliberation," she said.
The proposal came about after the success of the center's "Gulayan sa Kabalayan (GsK), a predecessor of the UCM, which initially was launched as a pandemic response in 2020, at a time when movements were restricted due to the growing cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the city.
If approved, Collera said the UCM project can be expanded to more partner barangays in the city.
Currently, USTP-CHD has partnered with Barangays Pagatpat and Tablon for the project.
Last year, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed via Zoom with the aim of training communities on the benefits of vegetable production and processing, agro-enterprise development, and financial literacy with the two partners barangays.
Other than USTP, the Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao (DA-10) and the Philippine Association of Agriculturists, Inc. in Region 10 are also promoting small-scale farming in communities through communal gardens.
In November 2021, DA-10 and PAA launched the search for the best communal garden, and during the ocular inspection and validation last week, officials visited the participating group's locations that have a minimum garden area of 500 square meters.
In a statement, DA-10 Director Carlene C. Collado said the initiative aims to support the Plant, Plant, Plant Program (Agri 4Ps) of the agency, which intends to scale up the country's food and nutrition security level amid the pandemic, while empowering localities on food production as a source of livelihood.
Joining the contest are the Tangaro Young Farmers of Catarman, Camiguin; Barangay Calaocalao in Don Carlos, Bukidnon; Sinai Rural Improvement Club Multi-Purpose Cooperative of Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental; Barangay Libertad in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte; and the Pan-ay Vegetable Farmers in Clarin, Misamis Occidental.
The participating organization's gardens were rated according to the physical arrangement, diversity of crops planted, adoption of technology innovations, production yield, and utilization of garden space.
DA-10 Technical Director for Operations, Carlota S. Madriaga, who is also the PAA-10 president, said the agency has provided the participating groups with inputs such as vegetable seeds, organic fertilizers, biopesticides, including the distribution of knapsack sprayer units.
"The communal garden will provide additional income to the communities, and at the same time promote organic and natural farming technology systems. With this (communal garden contest), other small groups from the different sectors will be more encouraged to plant their vegetables using indigenous materials in a minimal space," she said.
Winners of the communal garden competition are set to receive a cash prize and a plaque of recognition that is scheduled for an announcement by the second quarter of this year. (PNA)