HOR COMPLEX, Quezon City (DWDD) – The House special committee on food security has approved a substitute bill seeking to promote agricultural development in Metro Manila and other urban areas nationwide to help in the country’s attainment of self-sufficiency and sustainability in food production and food security.
To be known as the “Integrated Urban Agriculture Act,” the unnumbered substitute bill seeks to cover all urban spaces such as idle, government or private lots or buildings, and available land resources in state or private universities and colleges suitable for growing crops and raising poultry, livestock and aquaculture.
It substituted House Bills 2818, 4354, 4337 and 4422, and is authored by Reps. Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Michael Romero (Party-list, 1-PACMAN), Harlin Neil Abayon III (Party-list, AANGAT TAYO), Orestes Salon (Party-list, AGRI), Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO) and Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Party-list, DIWA).
The bill declares the attainment of self-sufficiency and sustainability in food production and food security as a primary State policies.
It further declares that the State shall endeavour to attain self-sufficiency in food production and climate-resilient communities in the metropolitan areas through the promotion of modern, appropriate, cost-effective, and environmentally safe agriculture technologies in order to ensure food security, promote a healthy citizenry, and advance and improve quality of life for urban dwellers that will ensure a healthy and sustainable environment, and food security in the country.
Under the bill, the owner of a building or land shall be granted a real property tax incentive and/or tax credit amounting to P10 for every square meter allotted to urban agriculture.
To guarantee that activities related to urban agriculture are closely supervised and properly coordinated, the measure mandates the creation of the Office of Urban Agriculture under the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The Office of Urban Agriculture shall have the following functions: (1) Ensure that the DA effectively encourages agricultural production in urban communities to combat hunger and food insecurity; (2) Ensure that the DA empowers communities in urban areas with large percentage of low income residents to eliminate shortages of affordable, fresh food products, increase the local production and sale of food, and create sustainable food systems; (3) Develop a unified strategy to link agricultural production and nutrition programs administered by the DA as a tool for economic development on urban communities; (4) Conduct systematic and regular reviews of the DA’s authority and policy making recommendations to Congress and the Secretary on new authority or regulation changes to assist urban communities to combat hunger, poor nutrition, and food security; (5) and Ensure that the programs established by the Act are implemented in a manner consistent with the goal of poverty reduction, food security, and healthy eating habits in urban communities.
The bill likewise seeks the establishment of an Urban Agriculture Council of the Philippines (UACP), under the DA, which shall have the following powers and duties: (1) Formulate implementing guidelines, programs, and operating principles consistent with government policies and the objectives of the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act; (2) Study and make recommendations regarding the impact of urban agriculture, vertical farming, and measures to promote sustainable living communities; (3) Monitor and carry out the implementation of the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act; and (4) and Submit and report to Congress its findings and recommendations.
Further, the measure mandates the integration of Urban Agriculture in the curriculum for elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels of both public and private academic institutions.
Urban Agriculture shall also form part of the required period of time spent by students in the National Service Training Program (NSTP) or the Citizens Military Training (CMT).
The bill further mandates the DA, in coordination with the proposed Urban Agriculture Council of the Philippines (UACP), to carry out a nationwide information and education campaign to ensure the public awareness of the program and encourage the public to take part in urban agriculture programs, projects, and activities. CONGRESS / MCAG