Aris: Vegetables key to food sufficiency

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Aris: Vegetables key to food sufficiency

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NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.

Staying at home to let pass the dreaded corona virus disease (Covid-19) can also be productive.

Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado made the observation after noting that some people have taken up the sleep-eat-sleep routine – and waiting (some even demanding) for relief goods and cash assistance from the local government unit (LGU).

The solon however lamented that, after receiving their respective cash assistance – or allowances for 4 P’s members – some have taken to gambling: illegal cockfighting, or the now popular card game of tong-its.

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True, some people are indeed needy, he said, but the situation does not glorify the mendicancy mentality.

After all, he said, people at home can take to vegetable gardening.

“No sprawling lot? No problem!” Aumentado said. One can use empty cement sacks, even damaged plastic purified water and other containers including the bigger pet bottles of softdrinks.

This way, people are assured of food sources, and will not rely solely on outside help. A welcome added boost, he explained, is the varied natural vitamins and minerals one gets from the vegetables – especially if these are raised sans chemical pesticides and grown with organic fertilizers from compost.

The activity alone, he said, provides food, nutrients, exercise and self-sufficiency – because not all can receive cash assistance as understandably, calamity funds have ceilings.

When Covid-19 shall have passed, Aumentado said he wants to scale up the gardening to community level.

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He intends to make Ubay, san Miguel and Buenavista towns the pilot for the project. These towns will be identify one or two hectares of vacant government lots where the community can plant. The LGU, with the support of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) field office here can assist the would-be farmers in sourcing good seeds.

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The agricultural technicians will be made available for “consultation” and to provide technical assistance.

Come harvest time, the people will then have nutritious food on the table, income if they sell, and immediate food source in case of calamities. This way, they need not wait for some papers to fill up, find their places in long queues exposed to the elements and yet, still hungry at the end of the day because the schedule was for listing only.

And in times of calamity, because the vegetables are available in the barangay, the LGU can buy the harvestable crops for distribution as relief goods like what several vegetable-growing provinces in the north have been doing.

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The community can also flood the market with their produce. The steady supply will stabilize the price – which will come out as reasonable, especially when no middlemen are allowed between production and the market.

Aumentado said the people have been made aware of the gymnasium, schools and other facilities as evacuation centers – most of which are already built with rain harvesters and tanks. This takes care of the water. With the community gardens, he said, food will readily be available.

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This promotes self-sufficiency. But above all, the solon said, this reduces the culture of mendicancy. (June S. Blanco)

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