Army to boost farming inside camps
MANILA, Philippines — Not yet turning its arms into plowshares, but the Philippine Army will already start producing food.
The Army is going to transform some parcels of land inside its sprawling camps into farms to help boost the country’s food security in the “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, it launched its “Green Camp” program at Fort Bonifacio, its headquarters, teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Tarlac Heritage Foundation Inc. (THF).
According to Army spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala, the program aims to develop the Army’s food self-sufficiency in view of possible shortages due to the pandemic.
A memorandum of partnership with the DA and THF was signed by Army vice commander Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Aquino on behalf of Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Zagala said.
Aquino said the program will be implemented in all Army camps nationwide.
“All Army camps nationwide are currently maintaining model farms toward a transformative and sustainable approach to self-sufficiency, which is essential to mitigate food shortage,” Aquino said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar stressed that “the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19 or any insurgence for that matter.”
“We are confident that we can win the war against hunger through our strategic alliance toward the long term, a strong, resilient, and productive Philippine agriculture,” he said.
Zagala said the DA and THF would provide technical know-how through technology transfer, seeds and possibly equipment. They will also help the Army develop a system that could incorporate urban aquaponics and vegetable production, he said.
Will share surplus
Some soldiers are already growing vegetables in their camps or maintaining fishponds for their own consumption. The Green Camp program is organizing that initiative into a nationwide effort for the Army, according to Zagala. Civilians also will benefit as the Army will share any excess produce, he added.
Zagala said three hectares inside Fort Bonifacio would be developed as a farm.
Last April, the Army 2nd Infantry Division under Maj Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos converted two hectares of Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, into a farmland “designed to keep community residents afloat during and beyond the enhanced community quarantine.”
Soldiers in the unit were taught to raise livestock, produce crops, and process food as part of their “mandate to serve the people in the field of food security,” Burgos said.
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