Caritas Philippines national director and Diocese of Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo

To meet the food requirements of residents during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Catholic Church in the Philippines pushes for community farming as a “shortcut”.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace – Caritas Philippines said the national government’s social amelioration program “is not efficiently solving our food security problem.” He, however, sees farming “as a necessary short-cut solution.”

Bagaforo who is also the bishop of the diocese of Kidapawan, urges the government, especially the Department of Agriculture (DA) “to start mobilizing farmers at the community level while we still have time.”

Bagaforo pointed out that through Caritas’ programs on sustainable agriculture, established community farms are assisting in the distribution of fresh vegetables to families affected by the work suspension in Nueva Vizcaya, Iligan, and Camarines Sur provinces.

He added that “a local farmers’ cooperative supported by the diocese of Libmanan in Camarines Norte and the Gratia Plena program of the Diocese of San Jose in Nueva Ecija are supplying thousands of sacks of commercial and organic rice to Luzon provinces.”

Caritas’ supports the backyard gardening programs in Iloilo, Bukidnon, Quezon, Leyte, the Samar provinces, Capiz, Oriental Mindoro and Zambales. The Catholic Church’s national charity arm is also into seedling distribution in the Archdiocese of Cebu to support food production at the household level.

Last month Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar also said that the government needs to “promote the proper implementation of urban agriculture in the Metropolis so that when there is tightening of food supply from the provinces there will be enough in the urban areas as well.”

The agriculture chief pointed out that both urban and community farming is part of the DA’s strategy to ensure food security during the health crisis. (Jojo Mangahis)