NURSERY. Some of the plant varieties that are available at the Uswag Plant Nursery in Barangay Tacas, Jaro district in Iloilo City. The nursery is being developed as a venue for training and showcase of urban farming, said City Agriculturist Iñigo Garingalao in an interview on Friday (Sept. 3, 2021). (PNA photo courtesy of Iñigo Garingalao)

ILOILO CITY – The local government here and the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas are preparing this city’s Uswag Plant Nursery in Barangay Tacas in Jaro district as a venue for training and showcase on urban farming.

City Agriculturist Iñigo Garingala, in an interview on Friday, said that in February this year, DA allotted around PHP7 million for the establishment of hydroponics, greenhouse, drip-irrigation and mushroom-growing facilities and high-powered sprayer.

The department also provided shredder, cultivator, and other tools that can help produce fertilizers as part of promoting organic farming.

Garingalao said that his office has asked for a chicken breeder as the plan is to have poultry, establish piggery and fish ponds, and grow rabbits and small ruminants such as goats.

“What will happen is that it will serve as a venue for farm visits and training area for the city’s 180 barangays if they would like to engage in urban farming,” he said.

It will also serve as a laboratory in tie-up with the Department of Education (DepEd), which will be offering a farm school curriculum at the Tiu Cho Teg-Ana Ros Foundation Integrated School in Barangay Lanit also in Jaro district.

“It’s a work in the making but it can already be used,” he said.

What is needed, he said, is a lecture area and lodging for participants to stay as a component of their training.

The 5,000-square meter Uswag Plant Nursery currently grows vegetable varieties such as okra, eggplant, lettuce, papaya, ampalaya, alugbate, and cucumber, among others, as well as forage grasses and even flowers for beatification.

The nursery was also the source of seedlings that were distributed to residents for backyard gardening prior to the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in May this year.

Over 3,000 seedlings were distributed to backyard growers who became interested to have their own source of nutritious food, he said.

“We have vision towards leveling it up but if it can be used as lecture and hands-on area depending on our quarantine protocol,” he added.

He added that his office is waiting for the DA for the hands-on training of City Agriculturist Office personnel on the handling of the facilities, which were supposed to be turned over to the city in May but were moved due to quarantine restrictions. (PNA)