The Paulinian Environmental Society broke stereotypes around agriculture and agri-business in the “Kadiwa & Food Security and Urban Gardening Talk” on November 25, 2022. The campaign, which aimed to promote agriculture in our modern world, featured two main events— a seminar on Food Security and Urban Gardening, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, and a Fresh Vegetable Market Caravan, in partnership with Kadiwa Farmers and Young Farmers Scholars of the Department of Agriculture.

Food Security and Urban Gardening Talk

The talk on Food Security and Urban Gardening in the Founder’s Hall officially started the event. Two speakers were invited to share their expertise with the audience— Mr. Radny Espera, an advocate for greenhouse development and hydroponics from the Bureau of Plant Industry, and Mr. Vernie Bao. 

The first speaker centered his discussion around sustainable gardening. The Bureau of Plants’s project, “PLANT. PLANT. PLANT.” promotes sustainable agriculture to alleviate poverty. They visit different parts of the NCR to provide free seeds and seedlings not only to local government units, but also to homeowners, communities, and schools. According to Mr. Espera, the Bureau of Plant Industry also advocates for food safety, helping consumers become more aware of the products they buy in the market. 

“Hindi po ba kayo nagtataka nanggagaling pa po siya (vegetables) sa ibang province, ang tagal na po niya pero ang ganda pa rin? Mayroon pong mga chemicals na ginagamit diyan para ma-maintain. Yun po yung iniiwasan natin” (don’t you ever wonder why vegetables from provinces remain in good condition even after a long time? It usually contains chemicals to maintain its look. That’s what we want to avoid.) These chemicals can cause or increase risks of pesticide-induced diseases, such as cancer, learning disabilities, or reproductive dysfunctions. Planting in our own homes can give us a sense of security that what we eat is fully organic and safe to consume.

Mr. Espera’s discussion on food security was then followed by Mr. Vernie Beo’s discussion on Urban Gardening and Agri-Business. He featured in Vermille’s Munting Bukid: Hydroponics and Organic Farm Learning Center. According to him, in three months’ time, he was able to grow different kinds of lettuce and other vegetables and create five micro-businesses with the help of a ₱100,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture. Selling these organic vegetables and other goods, like ice cream and “citrolicious” gave him a monthly income of ₱10,000 to ₱15,000 per month. His presentation aimed to encourage the younger generation to start businesses of their own, further showing that the field of agriculture is profitable and enjoyable. 

“Sa lahat ng mga kabataan na gustong pasukin ang pagnenegosyo, consider agriculture kasi napakalawak ng possibilities” (for the youth who want to venture towards entrepreneurship, consider agriculture as it can open up numerous possibilities), Vernie Beo and his business partner, Camille De Peralta, said in a TV-feature premiere on PTV4. 

Fresh Vegetable Market Caravan

While the seminar took place, the Fresh Vegetable Market Caravan had six concessionaires selling goods at the St. Paul University Manila’s Malvar Gate throughout the day. Goods ranged from fresh fruits and vegetables to dried products to poultry products, all of which were locally produced and were sold at 10-15% less than the suggested retail prices, which made them more affordable than products sold in grocery stores or local markets.

The Paulinian Environmental Society continued its advocacy of keeping the environment clean as they utilized reusable containers and reminded patrons to bring their own eco-bags. Paulinian students, teachers, and staff members were encouraged to support the farmers either by buying their products, sharing the event online, or interacting with the guests.

Source: SPU | The Paulinian