Even before the coronavirus pandemic that allowed people to spend more time in their homes, Senator Cynthia A. Villar led the vegetable growing campaign and encouraged people to grow their own food. “Home gardening is essential because of its contribution to food security and self-sufficiency – a buffer against high food prices,” said Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food. The Senator distributes seeds and organic fertilizers across the country through Villar SIPAG. The Senator is at the forefront when it comes to promoting gardening and composting – by turning kitchen and garden waste into organic fertilizer. “I have always advocated the home garden as a strategy for food security and for alleviating nutrient deficiencies. Having direct access to healthier foods and fresh vegetables is of great help to families. You don’t have to buy them in the market. You can even earn money with it, ”said Villar. In addition to seedlings, the Senator distributes free organic fertilizer from kitchen and garden waste. Villar SIPAG has 108 composting plants, 68 in Las Piñas and Bacoor and 50 through the Vistaland communities in the Philippines. They were distributed to LGUs, convention districts, private individuals, owner associations and organizations, private and public schools, and farmers through their cooperatives and associations. In addition, Villar SIPAG has farm schools that have been set up for free training in agricultural crop cultivation, rice cultivation, local animal production and aquaculture. The two farm schools provided over 2,000 trainees annually in 2020. Operations ceased in March 2020 due to quarantine restrictions, but in October 2020 Villar SIPAG Farm School in Las Pinas-Bacoor and San Jose del Monte City reopened and their agricultural production training programs resumed. By giving away vegetable seeds and teaching people how to farm, the people who lost their jobs, including those who cannot buy their own food in the market, started farming their land, Villar said. These families received food parcels from various organizations and decided not to rely on them alone by growing their own garden. Villar SIPAG continues to promote urban and home gardens because they believe that by teaching people how to grow their own food, they have easy access to healthy and nutritious food. The result of Villar SIPAG’s actions will eventually unfold if the lockdown restrictions in the Philippines continue to this day, the senator said. Just a few months after May 2020, the people who received the vegetable seeds were able to grow their own food. They have been able to cut their food costs and, most importantly, have more nutritious meals, added Villar.
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