Urban agri helps feed wasted island kids  

ILOILO – The provincial government here is popularizing the use of “container gardening” in remote island-barangays of Concepcion to reduce the number of their malnourished children.

Malnutrition rate in Concepcion is as high as 12.59 percent in 2014 and Barangay Tambaliza in Pan de Azucar Island ranked third in the whole town with the most number of wasted children aged 12 and below.

Starting with some 80 severely wasted pupils of Fernando A. Arlos Memorial School, the Provincial Agriculture’s Office introduced the concept of urban agriculture to grow crops and high-value vegetables in the island-barangay.

The teachers, including the barangay officials, were taught on how to cultivate pechay, lettuce, bitter gourd, eggplant, beans, onion, garlic, ginger, squash, radish, alugbati, lupo, sweet potato, tomato, and okra using plastic cases, bottles, sacks, pails and basins as improvised pots.

The container gardening was established in a 200-square meter area next to the school as part of PAO’s Agri-Productivity Program, a priority project of Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.

Crops Division Chief Officer-in-Charge Winnie Grabato and Agriculturist II Leonardo Geraldino said that the vegetable plants were grown organically using vermicomposting.

“This is the most logical approach to address the problem of food scarcity in the island. They may have fish but they have limited saline areas to grow fruits and vegetables to keep them nourished,” Grabado said.

Pan de Azucar Island is the home of 2,999 (2010 Census) people and the largest of the 16 outlying islands of Concepcion.  The island has three barangays – Taloto-an, Macatunao and Tambaliza – and it consists almost 19 percent of the town’s land area.

Iloilo’s container gardening in the island provided the residents, especially their children, with fresh food, added employment and recycled solid wastes.

According to Provincial Agricuturists Ildefonso Toledo, container gardening is also being established at Granada National High School in Gigantes Island, Carles.

The same will be implemented in Bayas Elementary School, Bayas Island, Estancia and Mangalabang Elementary School, Malangabang Island, Concepcion.

“Before, the barangay officials of Tambaliza were cynical of the project. But when they saw that it was possible, they realized their mistake. Now, even Mayor Millard Villanueva committed to adopt the program in whole of Concepcion,” Toledo stressed.

The container gardening of Defensor will run for five years starting this year and has a budget of P7.5-million or P1.5-million each year.

But as early as 2017, Toledo plans can saturate all the island-barangays of the province to resolve hunger due to poverty. JAN







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