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Philippines: “Pagsibol” highlights potential of horticulture, urban agri for food security and sustainability

"We recognize the significant role of horticulture and urban agriculture, and what it does, and its role in our nation's food security, economic growth, and sustainability," Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said at the Pagsibol: Philippine Horticulture and Urban Agriculture Summit 2024.

During the event opening on May 3, Secretary Tiu Laurel expressed the Department of Agriculture's (DA's) commitment to spearheading initiatives for the development of the Philippine agriculture in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s agenda for modernization and mechanization for food sufficiency.

He said horticulture offers a pathway to diversity with its focus on the cultivation of high-value crops and ornamentals and since the country's agricultural landscape is currently limited, he said it could help meet the evolving demands of domestic and international markets.

The agri-chief also recognized urban agriculture as a modern adaptation of traditional practices by bringing agriculture to city centers and communities.

"It presents a unique opportunity to reimagine the role of urban spaces in our agricultural system and harness the capacity of idle lands into centers of food and land production," he added.

Co-organized by the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), DA-High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), DA-National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program (NUPAP), and the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the event will highlight the status, challenges, potentials, and innovations of horticulture and urban agriculture in the country.

According to DA-BPI, NUPAP, and HVCDP Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban, the increasing interest in urban agriculture not only promotes self-sufficiency but also enhances community resilience and quality of urban life.

He added that the Philippines has emerged as a significant player in the global horticulture market, with exports of fruits, flowers, and ornamental plants reaching substantial annual values.

"The dynamic nature of horticulture and urban agriculture offers exciting prospects for innovation and entrepreneurship, from technology adaptation to farm-to-market initiatives. Our farmers and entrepreneurs can capitalize on the use of technology and creativity to drive positive change in the agriculture sector, both domestically and on the global stage," Director Panganiban said.