Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala (fifth from left) expressed his support to the advocacy on urban gardening and reforestation of the Marikina Watershed in a ceremonial turnover of indigenous tree seedlings at the Marikina City Hall, which falls in time with the observance of the Organic Agriculture Week. During the ceremony, Alcala encouraged members of the LGU to seek training on organic urban agriculture as well as edible landscaping, in support to the food sufficiency program of the government. Also in the photo are (from left) City Councilor Eva Aguirre Paz; City Councilor Joseph B. Banzon; City Vice Mayor Jose Fabian I. Cadiz; City Mayor Del R. De Guzman; City Councilor Ariel V. Cuaresma; City Councilor Mark Albert J. Del Rosario; City Councilor Susana P. Magtubo; City Councilor Xy-Za R. Diazen; and Fortune Barangay Captain Rizalina W. Teope. (Photo by Alan Jay Jacalan)
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala led the turnover of indigenous and fruit-bearing trees to Marikina City in an effort to boost LGU’s urban agriculture campaign, and to contribute to the reforestation of the Marikina Watershed.
Mayor Del De Guzman accepted the first batch of the 5,000 trees during the flag-raising ceremonies at the City Hall on November 3, 2014 in observance of the Organic Agriculture Week. In his message, De Guzman highlighted the importance of planting trees, not only within the city proper, but in the Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape or the Marikina Watershed.
“We need more trees in the watershed to prevent flooding here in the city. The watershed, although in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and within the territory of Rizal Province, is named Marikina Watershed,” De Guzman said.
In 2009, when typhoon Ondoy struck, the Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape was deforested, causing massive floods that swamped a large part of Metro Manila and killing hundreds of residents and destroying millions-of-pesos worth of properties.
Alcala said that the trees DA provided like tamarind and santol, which will be planted at the Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape, are not only for flood control but will also serve as source of livelihood for the residents of the city.
Aside from the common fruit trees, DA will also distribute indigenous trees like kalumpit and kamagong, which will be planted in parks to preserve and popularize these species.
Alcala also urged barangay officials to identify individuals who are interested in urban gardening and edible landscaping for them to tap DA’s training programs.
“DA, through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), can conduct seminars about organic and urban farming in your barangays to ensure that the advocacy is popularized and is sustained at the barangay level,” Alcala said.
Alcala added that the DA will provide a market link for the interested farmers, and train them on value-adding and marketing of their products.
The Secretary suggested as well that the LGU may provide incentives for districts that will be able to plant and protect the most number of trees to maturity. He encouraged the LGU to form a small group that will focus on the effort and develop a comprehensive masterplan to ensure efficiency and sustainability of the program.
Before being appointed as DA Secretary, Alcala was a two-term congressman of the 2nd District of Quezon Province from 2004 to 2010 and one of the principal authors of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 (RA 10068) and Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape Act (RA 2718). The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 (RA 10068) has decreed the promotion, propagation and further development and implementation of organic agriculture in the Philippines. He was also a co-author of the Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729). (DA-OSEC)