THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture-Davao Region office (DA-11) has earmarked a P10 million budget for seeds that will be distributed under the Gulayan Program to encourage communities to pursue backyard farming. “This is a 20% increase compared to the previous year’s budget for the Gulayan Program,” Melanie A. Provido, coordinator of the DA-High Value Crops Development Program. DA’s original Gulayan ng Masa program was established as a hunger mitigation program, and developed along with the integrated backyard gardening program in rural communities. “In the past five years we have covered 3,800 schools in Region 11 for this program,” she said. Under the program, DA trains teachers for setting up vegetable gardens in schools. Ms. Provido said the Gulayan Program has been expanded to the Gulayan sa Kampo in coordination with the military, and the Gulayan sa BJMP for gardens in prison compounds. — Carmencita A. Carillo