THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) and SM Supermalls have sealed another partnership to develop more urban garden areas across the country.  

On May 29, Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban signed a memorandum of agreement with the mall operator through its corporate social responsibility arm SM Foundation, Inc.  

With the current issues of food insecurity in the country, fostering innovative and sustainable urban farming methods with the help of private sectors is a solution to improve food accessibility,Mr. Panganiban said in a statement.  

The private sector serves as the extending arms of the DA in reaching new heights for the implementation of the program through sustainable and environment-friendly innovations,he added.  

Under the agreement, SM Supermalls committed to make urban gardening available in 20 more of its malls.  

These are in Manila, Las Piñas, Quezon City, Ortigas, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Urdaneta in Pangasinan, Tuguegarao City, San Fernando and Mabalacat in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac City,  Marilao in Bulacan, Puerto Princesa City, Naga City, Iloilo City, Cebu City, and General Santos City. 

“Again, we are thankful to the Department of Agriculture on their trust to partner with us in this program. We hope that, through this, more Filipinos will be engaged in planting their own vegetables in their backyards,” SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Bien Mateo said in Filipino.  

The DA, through its National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program (DA-NUPAP), will provide agricultural inputs, capacity-building activities, and informative materials, among others, to the identified project sites.  

The SM Supermalls and SM Foundation will include the DA-NUPAP in its Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan on Sustainable Agriculture Program, which provides employment to local farmers.  

The program will identify 25 participating beneficiaries who will be trained as barangay trainors within the project areas.  

SM Foundation will also link the urban garden producers with institutional markets. Sheldeen Joy Talavera