TACLOBAN CITY -- Food gardening is seen as a strategy to combat malnutrition among children in Eastern Visayas, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) said as the country celebrates Nutrition Month.
Citing surveys, NNC regional program coordinator Catalino Dotollo said only 67 percent of households in the country have vegetable garden, depriving families of consuming nutritious foods.
During the Nutrition Month launching in this city on Tuesday, Dotollo said non-consumption of vegetables due to the absence of food garden contributed to high rates of stunting and underweight in Eastern Visayas.
In 2017, about 20.8 percent of children in Eastern Visayas suffered growth stunting while 9.8 percent of them are underweight. Most of these children are in poverty-stricken Samar provinces.
“Household food security is an essential measure of nutritional status and health. Data from the National Nutrition Surveys show that the percent of households with daily intake below the recommended 100 percent dietary energy requirement, actually increased from 57 percent in 2003 to 66.9 percent in 2008,” Dotollo explained.
The survey also revealed that 28.6 percent of mothers and caregivers experienced food insecurity. Among households, 72.7 percent were considered food insecure because they suffered anxiety that food may run out before they can get money to buy more, according to Dotollo.
The NNC has tied up with the Department of Agriculture and other agencies to promote the establishment of food gardens.
“Food gardens address food and nutrition security by providing direct access to a variety of nutritionally-rich foods, increase purchasing power from savings, and generate additional income,” Dotollo added.
The agri sector is encouraged to issue policies supportive of food gardens, provision of free seminars, and trainings on gardening, provision of seeds and other planting materials, promotion of food gardening, promotion of urban gardening in cities and municipalities.
Other recommended activities include documentation of successful food gardens, local dietary supplementation programs to source ingredients from local food gardens, food gardening contests, organizing farmers’ markets to provide a venue to sell produce from food gardens, and conduct of village cooking contests using harvested produce.
Nutrition Month is a yearly campaign held every July to create greater awareness among Filipinos on the importance of nutrition. Presidential Decree 491 or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines mandates the NNC to lead and coordinate the nationwide campaign.
The chosen theme for this year is “Ugaliing magtanim, sapat na nutrisyon aanihin!”