The Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced that P2.2 million worth of farm equipment and garden tools will be turned over to close to a thousand public elementary and secondary schools in the Bicol region.
Emily Bordado, DA Bicol spokesperson, said some 945 public schools will be the beneficiaries of the program dubbed as “Gulayan sa Paaralan,” under the department’s High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).
She said that for this year, under the HVCDP “Gulayan sa Paaralan”, 200 public elementary schools in Albay province have expressed their intention to establish vegetable nurseries; 305 schools in Camarines Sur; 100 schools in Camarines Norte, 150 schools in Masbate; 100 schools in Sorsogon; and 90 schools in Catanduanes.
In 2019, a total of 920 public schools participated in the “Gulayan sa Paaralan”, but several schools not included in the target of the HVCDP were also given various interventions like vegetable seeds and garden tools upon request
The farm equipment and garden tools will consist of: a roll hose; roll plastic twine; plastic drum; a set of garden tools; hand sprayer; a bag of organic fertilizer; and assorted vegetable seeds.
Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, officer-in-charge (OIC) chief of the Field Operations Division and HVCDP regional coordinator, explained that the project is being implemented annually in partnership with the the Department of Education (DepEd).
Rodel P. Tornilla, DA Bicol regional executive director, has stressed the importance of food production as a means for survival at this perilous time.
Tornilla also cited the serious issue of the ageing population of farmers in the country, whose average age is 57 years old. “We need more young blood to continue the noble job of our farmers. Agriculture related activities like vegetable gardening should be included again in the basic education curriculum to encourage the youth towards farming.”
He said that although the students will not physically report to the schools, “Gulayan sa Paaralan” can still be executed through the teachers and be included in the subjects through virtual demonstrations.
Tornilla said reports from the participating schools have observed a reduction in the number of dropouts in their classes due to the students’ keen interest in growing their own vegetables and seeing them bear fruits. Most of the schools also used the produce in their feeding programs.