The national government should encourage farming in urban and rural areas to end malnutrition and move closer to achieving food security, according to lawmakers.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Rep. Janette Garin said the persistent issue of malnutrition in the country requires the implementation of a long-term solution.
Garin, a former health secretary, highlighted the interconnected nature of malnutrition issues with the availability of safe water.
“Another problem is the availability of safe water, because this has contributed a lot to many patients, as there are children who experience diarrhea due to drinking unsafe water.”
With this, Garin urged the government to extend support to rural areas for backyard farming, saying children must have access to nutritious food.
She also underscored the critical role of addressing the nutrition of pregnant women, noting that the nutritional well-being of children begins from conception.
According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), every day, 95 children in the Philippines die from malnutrition, and 27 out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday.
Knowledge gained from nutrition-related training and seminars must have actual implementation, as it would have a positive impact on addressing the problems of malnutrition, she said.
“Solving malnutrition is not just a government’s problem, but it should be a collaboration between our constituents. DOH should not stop having partnerships or agreements with UNICEF. The biggest problem that they have is the actual implementation on the ground.”
The Department of Health and UNICEF recently formed a partnership to strengthen health in the country and address malnutrition.
Urban farming bills
In Congress, lawmakers are pushing for the passage of bills promoting urban agriculture.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. said his House Bill 6051 “aligns” with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s emphasis on the pivotal role of agriculture in driving growth and employment in the country.
At the heart of his legislative proposal, Villafuerte said, is the promotion of urban farming, a practice that encompasses the cultivation, processing, and distribution of food within or around villages, towns, or cities.
This holistic approach to agriculture includes diverse components, such as animal agriculture, aquaculture, and agroforestry, among others, said the lawmaker.
Villafuerte said the essence of urban farming lies in its potential to provide numerous opportunities for citizens to access a variety of agricultural products right within their cities or communities.
“Recognizing the importance of fostering a deep understanding of urban farming, the proposed measure seeks to integrate urban agriculture and vertical farming into the academic curriculum for secondary and tertiary-level students across public and private academic institutions,” he said.
“Urban farming holds the promise of transforming cities into hubs of agricultural productivity, bridging the gap between rural and urban landscapes. By integrating such practices into educational curricula, the measure aims to create a future generation of informed individuals who can actively contribute to the advancement of agricultural sustainability.”
Ultimately, he said the integration of urban farming into educational frameworks not only serves as a response to the immediate challenges of food security but also stands as a forward-looking investment in the future of Philippine agriculture.
1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero also has also pitched his House Bill 806 for the rationalization of urban agriculture and institutionalizing farming in the highly-urbanized regions nationwide.
“Urban agriculture is the production, processing, and marketing of food in response to the demand of consumers within a metropolitan area, with the application of comprehensive production methods,” he said.
“These urban poor are mostly restricted in terms of education and job opportunities. This Urban Farming Act will help them gain benefits as it will continue to promote a better livelihood by providing non-market access to food.”
According to Romero, urban agriculture and farming will not only clean the environment, but they will also help minimize the effects of climate change.
“This proposed House measure also seeks to combat the effects of overpopulation and climate change.”