DAR chief declares farming: “the last frontier of our survival”

DAR chief declares farming: “the last frontier of our survival”


QUEZON CITY, Mar. 18 — Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John R. Castriciones has declared agriculture as the “cornerstone of the country’s survival” against the continuing upsurge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can have all the money in the world, but it has no meaning if there is no food available in the market. But if you plant today you are assured of something to eat tomorrow,” Bro. John, as Castriciones is fondly called, told urban vegetable gardeners during the third “Buhay sa Gulay” harvest festival in Caloocan City, the third in Metro Manila.

He added: “At this time of the crisis brought about by the pandemic, agriculture is our only hope, the last frontier for our survival.”

The DAR chief praised the urban vegetable gardeners for taking the challenge of cultivating and making productive idle lots under the “Buhay sa Gulay” program, which he himself had conceptualized upon seeing an idle football field at the Saint John Bosco Parish Church, which has become the first urban vegetable garden city in the country.

Bro. John said he is elated by the transformation of the once garbage dumping ground inside the Sunriser Village in Barangay 167, Caloocan City, into “a nourishing sight, a thing of beauty, and a new source of income for everyone and of affordable food on the table of every Filipino.”

He aptly described the urban vegetable gardener’s various kinds of vegetables that are now ready for harvesting as the “fruits of labor, nurtured with love.”

DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Emily Padilla echoed: “Today is the day when we should rise and meet the challenge posed by Covid 19. And rise to the challenge we will when we start cultivating idle lots and planting vegetables for our daily subsistence.”

“Kung ano ang itinanim, siya ring aanihin (Whatever we sow, we shall reap),” Padilla stressed, in reference to a biblical passage in Galatian 6.

“The “Buhay sa Gulay” program is a big help especially for us poor families. It gives us a new source of income and food on our table,” said Julieta Portuguez, 56, leader of Team Tony, derived from the name of their Barangay 167 chairman Antonio Reyes, one of the four teams of gardeners.

Team Yakap (Embrace) leader Lynette Daez, 49, said the “Buhay sa Gulay” program inspired them especially when “we were able to make the covered basketball court and multi-purpose compound, from garbage dumpsite to a vegetable garden, from being an eyesore to the pride of the Sunriser Village.”

City Councilor Vicente Ryan “Enteng” Malapitan, who ably represented his City Mayor Oscar Malapitan and 1st District Rep. Dale “Along” Malapitan, said he is awed by the collective efforts of the four barangays, which rose to the challenge.

“I am awed by what I see. The “Buhay sa Gulay” program shows that it is not only a good hobby and pastime but also a new source of income for our constituents. Hopefully, you can convince others to embrace it,” Malapitan said. (DAR)