Urban agriculture bill approved by House panel

Published June 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Agriculture approved today a bill proposing to develop idle government and private lands in urban areas into community gardens for agricultural food production.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Agricultural activities in skyscrapers and modern buildings are also endorsed in House Bill 3412 that was authored by Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez.

Several other legislative proposals were incorporated in HB 3412 entitled “Integrated Urban Agriculture Act.”

Chaired by Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga, the agriculture panel immediately drafted a substitute bill that will contain all amendments that Benitez and other authors of the original measure agreed for inclusion in the measure.

Under the bill, Benitez batted for the conversion of idle lands and the use of other open spaces in urban areas in the country into community gardening sites.

HB 3412 seeks to promote an integrated urban agriculture in the said areas to address food security problems affecting the country, made graver by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Citing results of the 2019 Survey of the Social Weather Stations, Benitez said that at least 2.5 million families were experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months prior to the second quarter of the year.

“The highest hunger incidence was recorded in Metro Manila, with 15.7 percent or approximately 520,000 families experiencing hunger,” said Benitez.

The neophyte lawmaker said HB 3412 seeks to address this serious food security problem by introducing “game-changing solutions” that include “maximizing available spaces and utilizing emerging agricultural technologies and methods.”

Under the bill, local government units, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), will tap neighborhood associations and people’s organizations in undertaking community gardening.

On the other hand, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development is tasked to ensure the provision of adequate spaces for conversion into community gardens and vertical farms.

The proposed urban gardening sites will cover idle or abandoned government or private lands, urban spaces in all urban, peri-urban and urbanizable areas. Lands in military camps or state-run or private universities and colleges may also be tapped for agricultural endeavor such as growing crops and aquaculture.

The bill also encourages vertical farming that refers to the method or practice of indoor agriculture or growing produce in vertically stacked laters in skyscrapers and modern buildings using geoponic, hydroponic and aeroponic growing methods.

Also provided in the bill are the grant of incentives to participants of the urban agriculture as provided under Republic Act 11292 or the Seal of Good Local Governance Bill.

Loans extended by government and private banks to participating individuals, corporations and partnerships will also get incentives under Republic Act No. 10000 or the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and Financing Act.