CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Almost two hectares of this Army camp will be converted to farmlands after soldiers turned to farming to prevent a looming food crisis as the nation battles the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Army Commander in Southern Tagalog said that the idea to support the needs of the community and the people under quarantine was in line with the guidance of Sec Dennis Hernandez, the Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog, that was coursed through the AFP’s Southern Luzon Commander, Lt Gen Antonio Parlade.
The unprecedented response of soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division is in partnership with DV Boer International Farms Corporation which has 20 farms located across Region 4A.
According to Major General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of 2ID which covers Southern Tagalog, the initiative is a three-pronged approach designed to keep the people afloat during, and even beyond, the Enhanced Community Quarantine period being implemented by the government to prevent the spread of the deadly corona virus.
“First, the idle lands of vast military reservations which are to be developed will be put to good use” while making sure that his “soldiers will be performing their mandate to serve the people, this time in the field of food security”, said Maj Gen Burgos.
He added that through this program, his troops’ chances of being infected with Covid-19 will be lower because they will be exposed to the sun which is one of the recommended preventive tips by health experts.
Mr Dexter Villamin, the President and CEO of DV Boer Farms which is also known as “The People’s Farm”, said that food security should be ensured so that greater problems such as hunger and civil disobedience can be prevented as those are the problems that might arise as a result of the measures which were set in place to contain the current global crisis.
“If the situation drags on, people will be hungry and the government will have to deal with another problem”, said Mr Villamin who added that as a private company investing in agriculture, “we feel that it is our social responsibility to avert such problem not only by providing products to serve as food but also to give our people a means of living while most of the industries are on shut down.”
Mr Villamin is an AFP KAPAYAPAAN AWARDEE for 2018 and has long been advocating for food-security through a network of “sub-farms” across the country. His group is a great contributor in promoting peace in many communities thru the agricultural livelihood that they have given, thus, making employment available and local food affordable.
Under the partnership, the farms will be providing technical assistance in livestock raising, crop production and food processing to the soldiers while volunteers from the community and paramilitary forces will be tapped to augment the manpower of the private farms that will be converted into “Quarantine Farm Camps” which is projected to produce 32 tons of farm-fresh food in just 8-10 months, 65% of which will be donated to the needy to serve as one of the local government units’ sources of relief for their constituents.
The group of farms will provide free board and lodging to the soldiers-trainees while they are being trained in actual food production until the time that they are ready to share the knowledge to their fellow soldiers.
“Filipinos, coming from a country that is primarily agricultural, has a natural skill for farming, on top of our innate resiliency. What we are doing is merely going back to the basics, tapping our strengths and heritage to survive this very challenging phase of our lives”, ended Mr Villamin.
Initially, around 50 civilian volunteers and CAFGU Active Auxilliaries coming from Tanay will augment MDT Farm, a sprawling 7-hectare agri-business located in Brgy Sampaloc, to bolster its production from its current inventory of almost 500 high breed goats, more than 300 chickens, native swines and imported turkeys.
Hon Rex Manuel Tanjuatco, the Mayor of Tanay, expressed his appreciation for being selected as the host municipality of this maiden project.
“I am optimistic that this out of the box program will turn out to be the extraordinary action that will help ensure my constituents’ survival during these extraordinary times”, added Mayor Tanjuatco.
On the part of the military, Maj Gen Burgos said that the project will make his camp self-sustaining thereby ensuring that his unit will be able to preserve their forces through a steady source of nutritious food for soldiers to eat.
He emphasized that even the community around this military camp will benefit because the food supply in the market will be higher for the locals and, at the same time, the troops’ produce can be shared to the neighboring villages, should the need arise.
“Aside from deploying more than 3,000 soldiers to man 340 Quarantine Control Points or QCPs, this is one of your soldiers’ humble contributions and act of solidarity with the Filipino nation as we all pray for this crisis to finally pass”, Maj Gen Burgos said.
Per the programs’ concept, the Department of Agriculture and Department of Science and Technology will sanction the undertaking in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for a whole of nation approach in addressing the various problems which the country is, and will be, facing.
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