Erap: Allow vegetable gardens of poor on your land

Jodesz Gavilan
Erap: Allow vegetable gardens of poor on your land
The Manila mayor encourages the 'rich and landed' residents to let poor families use their perimeter walls as vertical vegetable gardens to help solve the problem of hunger

MANILA, Philippines – To help address the problem of hunger, Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada is calling on well-off families to offer a part of their properties to serve as garden spaces of Manila’s poor residents. 

Starting with his neighbors along Mangga Avenue in Sta Mesa, Manila, Estrada on Wednesday, November 18, requested if portions of their properties’ perimeter walls can be used as vertical gardens or vegetable garden spaces.

The walls, he said, can be used by poor residents of the Philippine capital. Instead of being idle fixtures, the gardens can be a source of food and additional income.

Among vegetables that can grow on vertical walls or gardens are sayote (chayote), okra, kangkong, sigarilyas (winged beans) and legumes.

“I believe in the compassion of the landed and rich in Manila towards their less-fortunate brothers and sisters,” Estrada said. “I am thus appealing to them to share portions of the walls of their properties as gardening spots.”

Expand existing program

The move to include more private spaces is an effort to expand the city’s existing program.

Launched in September in select schools in the city, the Rebolusyon Kontra Gutom (RKG) or Revolution Against Hunger program encourages poor communities to turn idle lands in their areas into vegetable gardens by giving away seeds, providing proper training, and other planting supplies instead of cash.

This program is the city’s way of addressing the problem of hunger affecting the country.  

The latest Social Weather Stations survey results found that 15.7% of Filipino families suffer from involuntary hunger. Almost 553,000 out of the estimated 3.5 million hungry families reside in Metro Manila. (READ: More Filipino families suffer from hunger in Q3 2015)

SEEDS. The Manila government gives away seedlings and other planting supplies under the food security program.

“The RKG program is my administration’s modest contribution in food security approach, encourages residents to plant vegetables and other food crops in vacant spaces or in recycled or improvised pots, or – in this latest undertaking – on walls to be modified with vertical garden mats.” Estrada explained.

To encourage more people to join the cause, Estrada converted the walls of his Manila property into vegetable gardens.

The produce, he said, will be shared by the underprivileged families in the vicinity for consumption or additional income.

Initiatives like this contribute to food accessibility of people trapped in hunger and poverty. With increasing prices of food products that Filipinos earning only a minimum wage can hardly afford, other ways of providing food for the table are much needed. (READ: Is the minimum wage enough for a day’s worth of nutritious meals?)

Urban farming: Answer to hunger?

Manila is just one of the local government units promoting the importance of backyard farming as solution to food insecurity.

Quezon City’s “Joy of Urban Farming,” spearheaded by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte in 2010, now has 84 urban farms in barangays, schools, and other sites. (READ: Making farming work in the big city)

Meanwhile, Davao City continues to support local initiatives on organic farming. Aside from ensuring food security in the area, it preserves the environment yet utilizes the city’s rich water resources. (READ: Davao City goes green, supports organic farming)

Family farming has been lauded by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as an important fixture in providing food and income. With proper support from the government, it can ultimately result in a hunger-free world.  –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.