Urban agriculture: 160 farms in Quezon City

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of self-reliance in the Philippines’ most populous city

January 2022

Words by Alexandra Nicodemo

Under the “Joy of Farming” initiative, the city has helped establish more than 160 organic farms in backyards, daycare centres, churches and communal spaces since 2010, as well as three demonstration farms covering 1,500m2

Like many developing areas around the globe, Quezon City in the Philippines faces the complex burden of pervasive malnutrition combined with growing rates of obesity. Mayor Joy Belmonte initially seized upon urban agriculture as a means to mitigate hunger and give low-income households their own source of nutritious food. Under the “Joy of Farming” initiative, the city has helped establish more than 160 organic farms in backyards, daycare centres, churches and communal spaces since 2010, as well as three demonstration farms covering 1,500m2. When the pandemic hit, severely disrupting supply chains, it emphasized just how important homegrown food could be: “Covid exacerbated all of the food-related problems in the city,” says Emily Norford at EAT, who has been working with the city government. 

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A food security taskforce was set up to provide an emergency response and to formulate a longer-term plan to make the city more self-sufficient in the event of future pandemics or natural disasters. Urban farming is a key pillar of both. In the first six months of the pandemic, 36,000 seed starter kits were delivered to schools and community organizations. For the future, the city intends to develop urban agriculture at different scales, from household gardens to commercial operations, and has allocated a 7ha plot for an urban farm that is expected to produce 765 tonnes of vegetables, including eggplant, squash and okra. Accepting a local governance award for the GrowQC Food Security Initiative, mayor Belmonte said: “This programme is a testament that we can be self-reliant even if we are in a highly urbanized city.”

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