Agrarian reform beneficiaries organization (ARBO) in Ocampo, Camarines Sur has found vegetable farming self-satisfying as it provides its members their “daily bread” and pre-school children in their villages their daily nutritional needs.
Juliet Parlero, chairperson of the May-Ogob Agrarian Reform Cooperative (MOARC), said the program, dubbed: “Gulay para sa Lusog at Siglang Batang Day Care Center,” is a welcome development for it provides farmer-members steady market outlets for their harvests and a sense of pride for helping develop the villages’ future generation healthy.
“It’s like shooting two birds in one shot. We have steady income out of regular sales of our vegetables and, at the same time, help nourish our kids by providing them with fresh and organically produced vegetables,” Parlero said in an interview at their “Learning Farm Station” in Barangay May-Ogob, Ocampo town.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the program, a joint undertaking of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP), seeks to uplift the quality of life in the community and make pre-school children at day care centers well-nourished.
The DAR chief said the new set up shows the importance of collaboration between and among concerned government agencies and the civil society in an overall objective of helping every community attain a vibrant economy and ensuring a healthy and energetic village people.
Under the program, the existing ARBO in the barangay supplies the daily vegetable needs of day care centers in the same barangay. The number of day-care center in each village depends on the number of population. In barangay May-Ogob, an averaged barangay, there are three day-care centers, with at least 35 pupils each.
De los Reyes said under this arrangement the farmer-beneficiaries are motivated to work harder in their vegetable farms on a year-round basis and produce more because they have ready market outlets for their harvests, and the school children are assured of fresh and organically produced vegetables, which are good for their health.
DSWD nutritionist-dietician Richel Arellano-dela Cruz said the project is an offshoot of a previous undertaking when the government used to provide a kilo of rice for each public pre-school and elementary pupil.
“This time we make sure that the project would be result-oriented by having it directly enjoyed by its intended beneficiaries – the pre-school children,” Arellano-dela Cruz said.
She said the daily food budget for each pupil is P13 and is broken down as follows: P3 for rice and P10 for viand (ulam) or cuisine. Pre-school children attend classes at day care center five days a week or 120 days a year.
Harawan Day Care Center worker Elinor Mangubat said the program is very encouraging as her wards have become more active and started enjoying school activities, much unlike before when they appeared less cooperative and less attentive.