How home gardens can help fight malnutrition

According to the National Nutrition Council, food gardening may be an answer to the problem of hunger and malnutrition

Sheila Advincula

1:38:46pm July 19, 2018

1:39:40pm July 19, 2018

FOOD SECURITY. Food gardens offer food and health security due to direct supply of nutrition. Photo from the Food Nutrition Research Institute

FOOD SECURITY. Food gardens offer food and health security due to direct supply of nutrition. Photo from the Food Nutrition Research Institute

MANILA, Philippines – While the numbers for self-rated hungry Filipinos have decreased in the first quarter of 2018, there is still more to be done to solve the hunger problem in the country.

With this, the 44th Nutrition Month focuses on a food gardening campaign with the theme: “Ugaliing magtanim, sapat na nutrisyon aanihin!” (Make gardening a habit to obtain proper nutrition.)

“Food gardening is envisioned to be a long-term solution to malnutrition,” the council’s National Information and Education Division (NIED) chief Jovita Raval said.

What is food gardening?

Food gardening is the sustainable cultivation of plants such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs in or near the household. In some cases, raising livestock for consumption and food production labor is included.

According to the National Nutrition Council (NNC), the campaign aims to prevent micronutrient deficiencies through the following:

diet diversification

reduction of food insecurity or food poverty

increase in consumption of food and vegetables

The council also suggests integrating food gardens into the local food systems as food gardens are also established to:

improve nutritional status

increase availability of food and better nutrition through food diversity

increase household income with increased purchasing power from savings

offer opportunities for women, youth, elderly and the disabled through involvement

foster community mobilization

improve health

alleviate food shortages during disaster

This way, they can help improve society overall. (READ: Fighting malnutrition with veggies)

Limited means and access

However, the NNC anticipates challenges in the lack of access to natural resources, seedlings and agricultural supplies, and knowledge of nutrition and gardening.

Addressing the issues, the division chief said, “The nutrition month campaign promotes a number of food gardening technologies that requires minimal input and using no land at all. The local agriculture office provides free seedlings as well as small animal dispersal program to families. The technology and support are there, families just need to go to their local agriculture offices or approach the agriculture technicians.”

However, she added, “[Seedlings and agricultural supplies] are costed at the local level by LGUs [local government units] and amount of support will vary.”

Raval said that the campaign will be inclusive and felt in the long-term with the coordination of NNC regional offices, LGUs, non-governmental organizations, and schools that anchor their messages with the NNC nutrition month theme.

“The Department of Education maintains its Gulayan sa Paaralan Program and the Department of Agriculture continue[s] to support food gardening through its programs and bureaus,” she said. (READ: How is gov't managing school feeding program?)

“NNC also responds to a number of requests for resource persons from different agencies, schools and NGOs in the conduct of seminars on the theme.”

On July 7, the NNC launched the search for the best food garden, which will end with the announcement of winners in July 2019 for the 45th Nutrition Month. NNC also has a Food Gardening Congress every Saturday of July in Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Baguio.

According to Raval, the promotion of the campaign is “complemented with TV and radio segment buys and airing of plugs.”

The NNC spearheads the yearly nationwide celebration of nutrition month in July as mandated by Presidential Decree 491 or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Sheila Advincula is a Rappler intern. She majors in AB Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University.