Tampakan’s ‘survival garden’ gears toward food security beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
To ensure sufficient supply of food as the community deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipal government of Tampakan in South Cotabato initiated a ‘survival garden.’
The ‘survival garden’ located in the hinterlands of Sitio Salway, Brgy. Tablu is 1,800 feet above sea level making its climate suitable for vegetable growing.
Members of the Blaan tribe residing near the area were tapped by the local government to maintain and assist in the farming of vegetables and other crops.
Vegetables grown in the site include Chinese pechay, raddish, eggplant, cabbage, string beans, okra, pumpkin, upo (bottle gourd), among others.
Last month, free vegetables were distributed to residents as part of the first harvest from the survival garden. These were added to the usual food relief packs consisting of rice and canned goods.
According to Mayor Leonard Escobillo, the main idea is to be self-sufficient and produce healthier options for food aid even after this pandemic.
Mayor Escobillo said the area is also being developed as the town’s agri-tourism site through an ordinance which will be approved within the following weeks.
“It is approximately around 21 hectares donated to the local government by private owners. The scenery is beautiful, you can see Mt. Matutum on one side and century-old trees on the other side,” Escobillo said.
The official also revealed that there are initial talks with the Department of Agriculture for the establishment of a Regional Vegetable Research Facility in the area.
“In Region 12 we don’t have a vegetable research facility where experts can study how to improve vegetable varieties and production systems. I already talked with DA 12 Director Mangelen and he is very interested. We are setting up a visit to the survival garden with them anytime this month,” Escobillo added.
Meanwhile, rather than having the usual Independence Day program, officials and employees of the local government decided to plant trees in denuded areas near the survival garden.
It was known as ‘Nabol’ back in the day. It got its name from the dense ‘Nabol’ trees (Elaeocarpus gigantifolius) that used to exist in the area. Unfortunately, parts of the area were denuded as a result of occasional “kaingin,” Escobillo said.
The local government is rehabilitating it now by planting thousands of new Nabol trees and bamboo in the riverside.
As the battle with COVID-19 continues, Mayor Escobillo advised his constituents to remain active and adhere to health protocols such as physical distancing, proper sanitation, and to submit to the pre-emptive contact tracing implemented by the provincial government.
“We need to live by preparing our economy and opening industries, but this doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. We have to learn how to live with COVID. That is why we have laid down several programs for us to be secured and be protected,” he said.
Tampakan is a 2nd class municipality in the province of South Cotabato. It is also known for its copper and gold deposits. — Source: pia.gov.ph / (ORVR)