The Department of Agriculture targets to boost the country's food sufficiency level amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Agriculture Sec. William Dar said DA has rolled out urban agriculture under the “Plant, Plant, Plant" program or “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Laban sa Covid-19" which sought to advance planting and harvesting activities.
"The objective of the ('Plant, Plant, Plant') program is to boost the food sufficiency level of the agriculture commodities starting from rice, corn, fisheries, vegetable and many other commodities that are essential in the country's food security," Dar said.
He noted the importance of the food value chain amid the crisis.
There is a need to ensure that every household has enough food and vegetable supplies with them.
He said, for instance, that although there are enough vegetable imports from nearby areas of Metro Manila, "it is more efficient for the Metro Manila residents to encourage them to plant vegetables at their backyards and harvest on their own".
He said there are new technologies that can be used to pursue planting in our own backyards.
The DA, he said, is helping by distributing vegetable seedlings for small-time farming.
"We are initially distributing vegetable seedlings that can be harvested within one to two months' time, to augment the food provision to every Filipinos," he said.
The DA pushes backyard gardening to Metro Manila residents, he said, as part of ensuring food security for every Filipino household.
He said the department has already rolled out the urban agriculture program in other areas outside Luzon.
"We are now prepositioning those needed materials, inputs and seeds," the DA chief added.
He urged urban residents to plant agricultural products while the ECQ is still in effect.
Dar added that the DA would pursue the P8.5-billion ‘Rice Resiliency Project’ which targets to increase the country's rice production, providing an additional 6-percent increase from the rice sufficiency level from 87 percent to 93 percent by the end of 2020.
The project covers 2.7 million hectares, he said.
The target, he said, is to boost palay production to reach 22.12 million metric tons by end of December 2020, equivalent to 13.51 MMT of rice or 93 percent of the country’s total demand at 14.46 MMT.
The DA will provide quality seeds, fertilizers, and appropriate technical assistance, to ensure enough food security in the country, especially during the quarantine period.