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DOST promotes food safety thru office garden

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, May 31 — With the aim to promote food safety and instill awareness that food safety is everyone’s right, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) regional office conducted today its ‘Oh My Gulay’ Harvest Festival and launched its Food Safety Website.

DOST Assistant Regional Director for Field Operations Services Virginia Bilgera said the DOST, through its Oh My Gulay garden, aims to inspire other national government agencies to have their own office garden.

“Having witnessed the amazing benefits, I encourage other agencies, be it in government or private sector, to do the same in their respective offices,” she said.

Stakeholders and representatives from different national line agencies, and DOST employees were able to harvest the garden’s produce during the event. Among the produce are eggplant, cucumber, string beans, kangkong, sili, ampalaya, okra and kamatis.

Gardening is sweeter the second time around

Matt Ezekiel Abella, project leader of the Oh My Gulay garden. (Abella FB photo)

Who would have thought that a 250-square meter area can turn into an amazing garden planted with organic vegetables.

Matt Ezekiel Abella, project leader of the Oh My Gulay garden said it was last year when he first established the garden at their office’s backyard. He has to garden early in the morning, after office hours and even during weekends.

According to Abella, it was their regional director, Sancho Mabborang, who tapped him to establish a vegetable garden.

However, due to the onslaught of typhoon Ompong, the plants were destroyed leaving only the ‘kangkong’ plant alive.

Since Abella put so much heart in this project, he never gave up and had no second thought to reestablish the garden. This time, in partnership with the East West Seed Corporation and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“I have partnered with the East West Seed Corporation. They have been with me in technical support and provisions of hybrid seeds,” Abella said.

East West Seed Corporation (EWSC) works for smallholder vegetable farmers by improving the quality of tropical vegetable varieties and sharing knowledge and skills.

Crisanto Sabino, executive director of EWSC, lauded the initiative of the DOST for establishing a vegetable garden in its backyard.

“We are very glad that the DOST here established a vegetable garden. Through gardening, we share the same mission of increasing vegetable consumption among Filipinos,” Sabino said.

The EWSC that helped in the technical aspect of the establishment of the garden, employed a combination of conventional and urban planning techniques according to Sabino.

On modern vegetable gardening technologies

Arsenio dela Cruz of East West Seed Corporation shares modern vegetable garden technologies to the attendees. (PIA 2 photo)

Arsenio dela Cruz of EWSC, during the activity, shared with the attendees modern vegetable gardening technologies which their company is advocating.

One of which is the plastic mulching technology which according to dela Cruz is beneficial in suppressing weeds and conserving water in crop production and landscaping.

He also lectured the salient points to consider when planting vegetables using containers, the amount of light plants needed, the best time to water the plants, how to kill pests in organic way, among others.

Food Safety is everybody’s concern

On the other hand, the DOST on the same occasion launched its food safety website as one way to bring its services closer to people in protecting human health from harm arising from the consumption of food.

Bilgera said, as consumers, our concern is not only on nutritious food but also safe food.

She said the public may access now the department’s food safety website to know information relative to food safety.

For his part, Dr. Ernesto Guzman of DA said their department is teaching farmers how to grow vegetable employing good agricultural practices such as pesticide-free gardening to ensure the safety of the agricultural produce and the consumers who will consume the products.

“Food safety is not only DA, Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and DOST’s concern, it is everybody’s concern,” he said.

Guzman said food safety is a shared responsibility among concerned stakeholders along the food supply chain in its development and implementation.  These include the government, academe, industry and consumers, he added. (MDCT/PIA 2-Cagayan). northernforum.net

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