June 4, 2023

Instant food in relief packs can be made healthier if vegetables are added to them.

An expert on agronomy and food pathology said adding vegetables in dishes will not cost more if more people plant vegetables in their yards.

“We need to urge consumers to eat healthy and teach them ways how to have a stable food source at home,” said Jesusa Rivera, an expert from the Agronomy, Soils, and Plant Pathology Division of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Rivera said consumers do not have to wait long to have a sustainable source of food from vegetable farming as green leafy vegetables can be harvested 25 to 35 days after planting. Other vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, and chili usually take 45 days to three months to be harvested. 

The State of the World’s Children: Children, Food, and Nutrition report of the United Nations Children’s Fund showed that one in three 12 to 23-month-old Filipino children suffer from anemia while one in three children are irreversibly stunted by the age of two. One in 10 adolescents are also obese from wrong eating habits.

Also, data from the 2015 Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipino Children and Other Population Groups of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed that overweight and obesity were the prevailing problems for adults over 20 years old in central Luzon.

The 2015 Food Security Status, on the other hand, showed that only three out of 10 Filipino households are food secure. This meant that almost two-thirds of the households are still struggling from not having enough food for their families.

Integrating vegetable farming with rice growing is promoted in one of PhilRice projects, Palayamananan Plus, a rice-based production system program that started in 2014. Guided by its goal of sustainably increasing farmers’ income and tightening food and nutrition security, the program exemplifies the “BE RICH” principle, which stands for better resource allocation; enhanced biodiversity and ecological balance; reduced production risks; increased cropping intensity, productivity, and sustainability; continuous supply of nutritious food; and higher and more stable income. – Press release