Urdaneta City is a big vegetable garden

December 4, 2016 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment


By Yolanda Sotelo
URDANETA CITY – This city is known for its Bagsakan Market where all kinds of vegetables from different provinces are sold at wholesale prices.
But residents hardly buy their vegetables there, as all households maintain plots of vegetable gardens from where they pick fresh produce just before they cook. And it is only during certain months of the year that they grow vegetables, but throughout the year.
Aside from the backyard gardens, communal gardens along street sides or on idle lands are maintained in every purok (sub-village). Then there are plots of vegetables grown by the Sangguniang Kabataan members, senior citizens and barangay council, who are encouraged to use idle land for their gardens.
“All the residents are active participants in the project. Not a piece of land is idle as they are planted with vegetables,” Mayor Amadeo Perez III said.
Because their produce are organic, they are sure they won’t be suffer from any effects of vegetables that are full of chemicals.
Maintaining vegetable gardens in the back and front yards and even along the roads, has been a way of life for Urdaneta residents for decades now, Perez said.
This is because of the Tulungan sa Purok, a project that has spanned almost three decades, starting in 1988 by Perez’  father –former fifth district Rep. Amadeo Perez Jr. when he was the city mayor.
“The city may be operating the Bagsakan market, but vegetables are still expensive even at wholesale prices. With their own gardens, they would save money and they would be consuming fresh and chemical-free vegetables,” Perez said.
A computation of the  City Planning and Development Office showed that a family that grows its own vegetables saves a minimum of P30 a day,  P900 a month, or P10,800 a year.
Since there are 12,000 households in the city, their savings amount to P360,000 a day, P10,800,000 a month or P129,600,000 a year.
The Tulungan sa Purok started as an inter-barangay cleanliness and beautification contest. Almost 30 years hence, the barangays are still evaluated on a quarterly basis and awards are given at the end of the year to top performing communities. But the project is much more than a contest now. It has evolved into a lifestyle among the residents.
It is a citywide, year-round, multi-sectoral and multi-faceted project aimed at reducing poverty, empowering the people, pursuing good governance and sustainable development.
Some of the major emphasis programs of the Tulungan are: food production, cleanliness and beautification, health and sanitation, peace and order, solid waste management, and records management. Specific activities are backyard gardening, tree planting, recycling and composting, livestock raising, health awareness campaigns, and peacekeeping efforts.
The solid waste management and river clean up are the latest addition to the contest, Perez said. Each village is expected to have a materials recovery facility (MRF) although the city boasts of a sanitary landfill. These additions are in support of the climate change advocacies and the disaster risk reduction plans to make the communities disaster-resilient.
The contest has no official entry form, said City Planning and Development Officer Nestor Ibay said. The prizes are merely symbolical and are in forms of projects that would benefit the villages.  
The winning villages identify the projects that would be worth the price they won. The barangays were categorized into two – big and small, according to the number of residents. They both get the same worth of projects from P350,000 for the first prize down to P50,000 for the fifth prize.
All the non-winning villages get consolation prizes of P20,000 worth of projects.
“They usually ask for seeds and other materials to be used for the following year’s Tulungan,” Ibay said.
The city government has also launched specific contest categories namely, model school, model home, senior citizen’s communal garden, youth group and women’s group. Each category gets prizes of from P5,000 to P30,000 worth of projects.
 All sectors are involved in the project – from the implementation, monitoring to evaluation. At the city level, an inter- agency committee composed of city government officials and representatives from national government agencies and non-government organizations formulate the policies and implements the program at the city level.
At the barangay level, it is the Punong Barangay who implements and monitors the program, assigning the Sangguniang Barangay members to serve as coordinators for each activity
The program provides avenues for regular interfacing of barangay officials and their constituents.It also aids in participatory planning and program implementation as barangay folks give feedback and suggestions on how to make their barangay cleaner, greener, disaster-resilient, peaceful, self-reliant, and progressive.
Tulungan sa Purok has, indeed, revitalized the dying bayanihan spirit among people.
It is grassroots democracy at work.
 

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Entry filed under: News.

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