Benitez bill on urban agriculture approved

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The House of Representatives approved on second reading on Wednesday, Jan. 27 House Bill No. 8385, which consolidated several bills promoting urban agriculture, including  HB 3412 authored by Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Francisco Benitez.

Benitez headed the technical working group that drafted the consolidated bill, which will mainstream vertical farms, indoor farms, and community gardens in cities and urbanizing areas.

Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Francisco Benitez

HB 8385 is an act promoting integrated urban agriculture in urban areas nationwide to address food security. It covers idle government or private lands in all urban areas suitable for growing crops, raising poultry and livestock, as well as aquaculture.

The utilization of land for agricultural purposes, however, shall not be used as grounds for eviction of the informal settler families occupying the land, it said.

According to the Expanded National Nutrition conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 53.9 percent of Filipino households are food insecure.

To address this, it is imperative to introduce game-changing solutions, increasing production by maximizing available spaces and utilizing emerging agricultural technologies and methods, particularly in urban areas where hunger incidence is prevalent, Benitez said.

The promotion of household, community, school-based urban agriculture, he added, will contribute to food security and poverty reduction, strengthen community building, support the National Greening Program, and instill among citizens, especially the youth, environmental concerns.

Urban agriculture also puts value in otherwise idle urban spaces, maximizing limited land resources that are increasingly shrinking due to rapid urbanization and unsustainable urban development, Benitez added. – GB

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