Women’s group produces organic food for evacuees

By Rhaydz B. Barcia GUINOBATAN, Albay --- From the usual canned goods, noodles and rice food rationed to Mayon evacuees, fresh tilapia, root crops and organic vegetables are produced by Women for Progress Movement (WPM) to be distributed to displaced families of the 3rd district of Albay here for proper nutrition. Newly harvested sweet potatoes, bananas (saba), cassava, fresh petchay, mustasa, eggplants, as well as taro leaves from the communal gardens of WPM composed of 80 organizations consisting of 30 members each, or an equivalent of 2,400-strong band of women have been provided to Mayon evacuees for a week now. The WPM is headed by Evelyn Ragos, 68, a retired teacher from Polangui General Comprehensive High School. Ragos carries on her passion for public service through “Taranuman sa Barangay” to support Rep. Fernando Gonzalez’ initiative to provide livelihood to idle mothers which began during the onslaught of Typhoon Nina in 2016 in Bicol. “I taught for 35 years as public school teacher in Polangui town and after my retirement I decided to assist the women tapped by Cong. Fernando Gonzalez (3rd fistrict, Albay) to spearhead the “Taranuman sa Barangay” so that they could help their husbands augment the family resource while in the process of rehabilitation after Typhoon Nina’s devastation,” she recalled. “We want to produce more crops, vegetables for them to have livelihood, and stable supply of veggies even with natural disaster. We want this to be adopted in every barangay for women empowerment to help the government’s program for food sustainability through communal garden,” Ragos added. Rep. Gonzalez disclosed that “Taranuman sa Barangay” (Planting communal garden in the villages) project for Women for Progress Movement (WPM) was instituted in 2016 after typhoon Nina hit in Albay on December 25, 2016. “Women continued asking assistance for relief goods even after typhoon Niña so we decided to provide them vegetable seedlings that produced food in 25 days. In this way, they generated extra money aside while the husbands attend to the rehabilitation of rice lands,” Gonzalez said. Following the successful implementation of the project, the “women’s market” situated along Maharlika Highway (Diversion road), in Barangay Calzada in Ligao City going to Kawa-Kawa Hills was also established to sell the agricultural products produced by the communal gardens. He said organic vegetables, root crops, especially sweet potatoes, supplement other staples such as rice, fish and mongo to address the nutritional requirements of Mayon evacuees in the midst of Mayon’s Volcano’s restive behavior. Gonzalez buys the vegetables and root crops from the women’s organization to be distributed to Mayon evacuees in Ligao City of other affected towns. Ligao City has 465 families or 1,883 displaced evacuees and Guinobatan town has 1,319 families or 4,520 persons. Together, the district has to feed and attend to 1,784 families or 6,403 persons inside the evacuation centers. The congressman said that few days from now, eggplant seedlings will be ready for dispersal to the women’s communal gardens. “Instead of seeds, we provide them with seedlings that are ready for planting. These will reduce the mortality of vegetable seeds provided by the government and facilitate planting of, say, eggplants to ensure good harvest,” Rep. Gonzalez explained. Through the Taranuman sa Barangay project, Gonzalez hopes to produce bountiful harvest even with Mayon Volcano’s erratic behavior during the last few days.