By Chito Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Saturday stressed that there should be no cause for alarm as the city’s food security plan was further strengthened with the creation of a task force that would assure sufficient food supply during the national health emergency.
“We’ve seen our people struggle to put food on their table these past two months. Our idea is to strengthen our capability of producing our own food as a city and meet the needs of every family as we move forward,” said Belmonte.
Belmonte formed the QC-Food Security Task Force (QC-FSTF) after seeing the urgency to further boost the city’s capability to produce its own food, among others, amid the uncertainty brought about by the deadly virus.
The Quezon City government has partnered with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to jointly promote urban agriculture initiatives where residents are encouraged to try home gardening, community nurseries, and urban aquaculture as a means to boost household food security.
It recently launched a “libreng binhi (free seedlings) program that gives out urban farming starter kits to citizens.
Belmonte said that about 6612 starter kits have been distributed so far.
Emmanuel Velasco, co-chair of the QC-FSTF, said the task force will focus on developing strategies to further strengthen food security and help the local economy recover under the new normal.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us. It has put a burden on our people and has made us question our current ways of living,” said Velasco.
“Food is a concern of everyone, so we must all work together, allow new ways of thinking and initiate processes that can be sustainable, not only to survive this pandemic but to reboot the economy and create a new normal that we can pass on to the next generation,” he added.
The task force is mandated to formulate the city’s food security plan, which involves the repurposing of suitable open spaces for urban farming, creating partnerships with agricultural provinces and the development of agriculture zones and food zones for more direct trade and value-added processing of food.
Aside from promoting urban agriculture, agricultural inputs creation, and select animal production, Belmonte noted the task force will also work with legislative committees, sectoral representatives from agri-business, farmer’s organizations, and civil society organizations to ensure long-term food security.
The QC-FSTF also aims to meet Zero Hunger initiatives, one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN), in order to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and push for sustainable agriculture.