HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOOD SECURITY APPROVED “INTEGRATED URBAN AGRICULTURE BILL”

House Committee on Food Security approved the proposed measure on Integrated Urban Agriculture.

DIWA party-list representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar filed House Bill 4085 or the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act, which aims to institutionalize urban agriculture by mandating the Department of Agriculture (DA) to promote agriculture in the urban areas in the country.

Urban agriculture proved to have inclusive social benefits on food security, nutrition and poverty alleviation as well as environmental gains. While it may have minimal impact in our economy, urban agriculture can provide food security as it can be a good source of nutritious food for urban dwellers at minimal costs or no cost at all. It can be a sustainable poverty alleviation program and source of livelihood to augment household income as the produce from urban agriculture can be developed to eventually supply not only the household needs but also the commercial market demands

Institutionalizing the promotion of urban agriculture will, likewise, enhance support on research, extension and training for proper implementation of projects relative thereto.

The proposed measure mandates the DA to establish an Urban Agriculture Office that will serve as coordinating unit and oversight on urban agriculture programs. The Urban Agriculture Office shall ensure that programs agricultural production for household consumption and possible commercial sale in urban communities are effectively implemented.

The proposed measure provides for technical assistance to urban community gardening to expand and improve production as well as to implement conservation methods.

An Urban Agriculture Council is also created to formulate implementing guidelines, programs and operating principles on Urban Agriculture.

Under the proposed measure the DA, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources are mandated to conduct academic research on urban agriculture and vertical farming in metropolitan areas. To further promote urban agriculture, the Bill directs the inclusion of urban agriculture in the curriculum for all levels of education both in public and private schools. Moreover, Local Government Units are mandated to formulate policies thru local legislation to promote the practice of urban agriculture and to utilize unused spaces and idle lands in urban communities. To further raise awareness on the importance and benefits of urban agriculture, information campaigns are to be formulated by the concerned government institutions like DA, Philippine Information Agency, Local Public Information Office, DepEd, and CHED.

The Bill also provides for appropriation and tax incentives relative to urban agriculture.

The approval of this measure brings high hopes that urban agriculture will soon be a common practice throughout the country.