February 21, 2013, press release form the Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala emphasized the importance of attaining food self-sufficiency to the graduates of the season-long training on vegetable production led by the Department of Agriculture through its Agri-Pinoy High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) during a simple commencement ceremony held this month at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
Under the Yaman sa Halamanan: “Gulayan sa Bilangguan, Gabay sa Pagbabagong Buhay,” Sec. Alcala enjoined the prison inmates and Bureau of Corrections staff who underwent training inside the prison compound to apply their learned skills and continue cultivating vegetables even after they have been released out of jail.
“The Department of Agriculture (DA) will continue to assist you in farming even after your prison terms,” Alcala said adding that he has high hopes that the training they received will equip them with a means of sustainable livelihood.
“We are here with you all the way,” the Agri chief added.
To ensure that released prisoners will be supported all throughout, Alcala asked for a list of the liberated captives for follow up extensions.
The Department, thru the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) and DA-TECHGEN, has partnered with the Department of Justice (DoJ), thru the BuCor’s New NBP Agro Production Division in the implementation of the vegetable production project.
DA provided agricultural inputs (seeds, plastic mulch, fertilizers, seedling trays, and water pump), training and technical assistance, marketing assistance and monitoring of the project. It also rehabilitated the existing greenhouse for seedling production.
The Vegetable Importers, Exporters & Vendors Association (VIEVA) has also extended marketing support.
The vegetable production project commenced when President Benigno S. Aquino III visited the NBP on January 27, 2012 during the presentation of the Bureau of Corrections Roadmap.
The DA-HVCDP conducted the season-long training for the inmates in the Minimum Security Camp and for the Bureau of Corrections employees which started last October 2012. The program is divided into two phases. The project’s first phase started in February 2012 when a total area of 3,900 square meters was planted with hot pepper with a harvested volume of 1,200 kilograms.
The second phase began in November 2012 when different types of lowland and highland vegetables such as upo, ampalaya, stringbeans, okra, cucumber, eggplant, squash, tomato, bush sitao, kangkong, and saluyot were planted in a total of 3,000 square meters.
The project’s next steps include expansion of four hectares for commercial production of vegetables; provision of seeds, cultivator, farm tools, and water plastic drums; establishment of wood vinegar chamber and vermicomposting facility; and continuous monitoring and technical assistance.