Villar, Piñol urge Filipinos to grow own veggies

Amid the high prices of vegetables in the market, Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday advised Filipinos to grow their own vegetables instead of tending ornamental plants to be more self-reliant on food and less reliant on suppliers who manipulate market prices.

In an interview after the Senate hearing on the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Agriculture, where the issue on the high prices of rice and vegetables were discussed, Villar said she had long been advocating for backyard gardening, even in urban areas.

“There is such a thing as urban agriculture. Kahit nga tayo dito sa Metro Manila, sa mga paso natin (Even us here in Metro Manila, in our flowerpots), instead of doing ornamental plants, we do edible gardening,” the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food said.

She said growing one’s vegetables would lessen dependence on suppliers.

“Kasi hindi natin ma-stop ang hoarder, hindi natin ma-stop ang cartel, hindi natin ma-stop ang smuggling (Because we cannot stop the hoarder, the cartel and smuggling), we take care of ourselves,” Villar said.

It would also be better if people start tending livestocks to further minimize dependence on the market.

“Dapat lahat ng tao, we take care of our food security in a way that we can do it by ourselves. Para less na ang bibilhin natin para tumigil na sila nang pagho-hoard ng binibili natin (This will lessen our food purchases so that they will stop hoarding goods),” Villar said.

This was echoed by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol who expressed exasperation over reported complaints on the high price of “sili” or chili pepper.

“Ano naman nirereklamo natin sa sili? Ilang kilong sili ba ang kakainin ng isang tao? Dapat ang magreklamo dun yung wholesale buyer. Pero pag gawin pa nating issue ang sili… ang dali namang magtanim ng sili (What are we complaining about sili? How many kilos of sili does a person consume? Only the wholesale buyer should complain. But if we are to make it into an issue… it is very easy to plant sili),” the DA chief said in a separate interview.

“Ang advice ko, huwag tayong magreklamo pagdating sa ganyang gulay kasi napakadaling magtanim e. Pati na talong, magtanim kayo sa paso, pati okra (My advice: we must not complain regarding such vegetables because it is easy to plant vegetables. Even eggplants, we can plant in a flowerpot, even okra),” Piñol said.