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EDITORIAL: Nurture the gardeners more

Naga City’s Ordinance No. 2020-46, otherwise known as “An Ordinance Instituting Measures to Promote Public Health, Safety and Protection Against the Continuing Threat of Covid-19 or any such Emerging Infectious Diseases, Imposing Penalties for Violation Thereof, and for other Purposes”, may be clothed with the loftiest of ideals but it has provisions of doubtful applicability in reference to punitive provisions.

Of particular concern is Sec. 18.3 (Failure to put up and keep a year round vegetable garden): 1st Violation, Reprimand; 2nd Violation, Fine of Five Hundred Pesos (Php 500), 1 month from reprimand; 3rd Violation, Fine of One thousand Pesos (Php 1,000), 2 months from date of citation and 4th Violation, Fine of Two Thousand Pesos (Php 2,000) plus forfeiture of right to avail of government welfare services, 3 months from the date of citation. Most of the provisions of the said City ordinance are virtual repetition of the IATF goals and objectives.

If ever it has introduced any novelty the same pertains to putting a year round vegetable garden, which is a very laudable venture, considering that it is in keeping with the desire to support the doctrine that vegetables particularly the green leafy ones are essential in fighting infections as they boost the human’s immune system.

Towards this end, every household is required to establish a garden system where vegetables specially the green leafy ones shall be grown year round. Households without vacant lot available for planting, shall plant in the pots established for the purpose.

Furthermore under Section 15 of the said ordinance, the City Agriculture Office shall make available seeds/seedlings, assist the households to put up their respective vegetable gardens and establish/conduct an annual search for the best household vegetable garden in each of the twenty seven (27) barangays of Naga City.

Something is missing in the strategy of implementation. The provisions are lacking of several points which need to be amplified by way of strategies of implementation.

For one it is so short sighted to the extent that there is no guarantee of a long term impact, which may render the same vulnerable to the “ningas kugon” mentality.

The ordinance itself is wanting of details on how the project can survive the test of time. Also absent are the plans on how to market the harvest which could render the participating gardeners discouraged once over supply occurs.

Most of the vegetables being eyed for planting are seasonal in character. This being so, once the plants are harvested simultaneously their prices shall suffer from depreciation, hence can no longer command more lucrative prices.

This has been experienced in Northern Luzon and Southern Tagalog provinces where the farmers/planters were forced to sell their harvests at a very low price, to the point that the cost of production far out weight’s the market value.

What is more telling is the penal provision of Sec 18. 3 –failure to put up and keep a year round vegetable garden, that may render the urban poor much poorer and re-marginalized. Can we not devise ways and means so that in the course of nourishing the plants the gardeners are entitled to be nurtured more?

For instance a competition among individual households categorized by economic class and distributing rewards to the outstanding, will certainly nourish not only the plants but more importantly the gardeners.

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