Addressing food security in Bicol during and post-Covid

Bicolanos are a resilient people. Being visited by more than 20 typhoons every year along with the periodic floods and landslides spiced up by the eruption of Mayon and Bulusan volcanos, the people of the Tierra de Ibalon and los Camarines have learned to adapt to their environment.

Part of the Bicolanos’ adaptive behavior is focused on food security. Those that are able would plant fruits and vegetables and raise chickens and pigs just in case something happens. In the Third District of Albay, for instance, Congressman Fernando Cabredo shared that the youth in his area are soliciting seeds for planting unlike before when the common request are for basketball games.

To support this, local government units, sometimes in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the region, have distributed seeds and seedlings. Among those that distributed seeds are the Provincial Government of Albay, and the municipalities of Irosin in Sorsogon and Baao in Camarines Sur.

Photo credit: Che Rebeta FB

In most areas, ensuring food security during calamities are being inculcated even among children through the Gulayan sa Paaralan programs. In Masbate City, for instance, vegetables harvested in the schools gardens are used as ingredients for a COVID-19 response. Through Project STRIVE  or the Sharing Teachers’ Revenue to Indigents Vulnerable During Enhanced Community Quarantine, some of the vegetables were also sold to finance the food packs distributed to indigent families.

Interestingly, food security programs are not limited to seeds. In Buhi, Camarines Sur, the local government dispersed tilapia fingerlings to augment and further populate the wild tilapia population in Lake Buhi. The local government looks forward that fishermen without fishpens in Lake Buhi will benefit once these fingerlings mature.

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