BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The House of Representatives approved on second reading Wednesday House Bill No. 8385, that consolidated several bills promoting urban agriculture, including HB 3412 authored by Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd district).
Benitez headed the technical working group that produced the consolidated bill, that aims to mainstream vertical farms, indoor farms, and community gardens in cities and urbanized areas.
HB 3412 states that about 2.5 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, based on the 2019 second quarter survey of the Social Weather Station, with higher hunger incidence recorded in Metro Manila, with 520,000 families experiencing hunger.
According to the Expanded National Nutrition conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 53.9 percent of Filipino households are food-insecure.
To address this, it is imperative to introduce game-changing solutions, increasing production by maximizing available spaces, and utilizing emerging agricultural technologies and methods, particularly in urban areas where hunger incidence is prevalent, Benitez said in his bill.
The promotion of household, community, and school-based urban agriculture will contribute to food security and poverty reduction, strengthen community building, support the National Greening Program of the government, and instill among citizens, especially the youth, the concern for the environment, he added. Urban agriculture also puts value on otherwise idle urban spaces, maximizing limited land resources that are increasingly shrinking due to rapid urbanization and unsustainable urban development, Benitez also said.*