MANILA — To reduce urban poverty and ensure food security, we must grow food in idle or abandoned government-owned lots and buildings, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said in Senate Bill 257 or the Urban Agriculture and Vertical Farming Act of 2019.
“Sa ating mga tahanan, pwede tayong mag-umpisa sa pagtatanim ng mga herb gardens, kahit sa mga paso. Bukod sa ligaya sa matitipid sa grocery bills, meron pang ligaya sa pagpitas at pagkain ng sarili mong ani (In our own homes, we can start with planting herb gardens, even if only in garden pots. Aside from the joy of savings in grocery bills, there’s also joy in harvesting and eating your own produce),” said Pangilinan, himself a vegetable farmer who started planting on a small vacant lot in front of his house in Laguna.
But the bill is for national and local governments, instructing them to use idle or abandoned government lots and buildings, including land in state universities and colleges, for growing crops, raising livestock, and producing food using methods in urban agriculture and vertical farming.
“Apat ang sasaguting problema ng panukalang batas: kahirapan sa kalunsuran, food security, community building, at urban environment management. Mas maaliwalas ang ating mga siyudad kung merong mga pananim. Mas sariwa ang hangin. Mas maginhawang pagsasamahan sa komunidad (The bill will solve four problems: urban poverty, food security, community building, and urban environment management. Our cities will be cleaner, with fresher air, and more neighborly relations in the community),” said the former Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
The bill also says the Departments of Agriculture and Science and Technology must support and launch research for state-of-the-art technologies on urban agriculture and vertical farming.
Aside from granting incentives to constituents who actively participate in urban farming, the bill says local government units need to formulate policy on the practice, particularly on the use of unused spaces and idle lands.
The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education shall include urban agriculture and vertical farming in the curriculum of secondary and tertiary education in private and public schools, according to Senate Bill 257.
Appropriations for the bill’s implementation shall be incorporated in the annual budgets of the DA, DOST, DePEd, and CHEd.
The Urban Agriculture and Vertical Farming Act of 2019 is only one of Pangilinan’s legislations on food security and sustainability.
For the 18th Congress, he has filed 13 other agriculture- and environment-related bills. They are: Senate Bills 31 on Coco Levy Trust Fund, 32 on creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, 33 on Post-Harvest Facilities, 34 on Organic Agriculture, 35 on Expanded Crop Insurance, 36 on Rainwater Management, 38 on National Land Use, 40 on Single-use Plastic Regulation, 256 on Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act, 263 on Solid Waste Importation Ban, 423 on Food Waste Reduction, 638 on Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Incentives, and 639 on National Mangrove Forest Protection and Preservation.
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