The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in cooperation with the National Nutrition Council (NNC) are presently implementing the “Gulayan sa Paaralan” program in all public schools in the Province of Guimaras.
The program aims to address problem of malnutrition among school children and this can be addressed by the Gulayan sa Paaralan project which serves as the main source of commodities to sustain supplementary feeding.
It’s so heart-warming to note that the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program is long been implemented in the Municipality of Sibunag, Guimaras particularly by the Desiderio Gange National High School in Maabay, Sibunag. The program started as SIGA or the School inside the Garden strongly imposed by the Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) department headed by its TLE Coordinator Mr. Ray Mercolino. With SIGA, different vegetables were planted in many vacant areas of the school premises. Even then that the program was not given emphasis on its later part of implementation, the DGNHS continuous to stood by itself even widening the scope of the program by reviving it into “Barangay SIGA” wherein areas for vegetable production have increased and were added with banana plantation with beautiful landscape providing enough area for each variety of vegetable to grow. Seeds produced were utilized by planting it again and part was distributed among students for home gardening.
In 2000, the Barangay SIGA took another step of development when Mr. Merculino revived it into Agri-Silvi-Poultry and Industrial Area (ASPIA). With this, vegetable gardening was then added with the propagation of ornamental, forest and fruit trees integrated with the raising of poultry and livestock and the learning on the fabrication of native and hand made handicraft out from the indigenous materials found in the local areas such conversion of recyclable materials into usable and income augmentation among student entrepreneurs.
The DA helps in providing planting materials as well as encouraging the organic gardening technologies. Organic gardening is emphasize as a technique in planting vegetables without the use of any chemicals or synthetics. The objective is to produce crops which have the highest nutritional values with least impact on nature.
With its great reap from SIGA to ASPIA, not only teaching students on how to properly plant the seeds and even gain profit out of it, how to raise poultry animals, moulding students to become young entrepreneurs but also multiplying the good effect to the community. More barangay folks are already having vegetable garden within their backyard from the seeds distributed to students in school out from their produce.
Former Guimaras Schools Division Superintendent Nerio Osano in 2004 declared the Desiderio Gange National High School as an Agro Indutrial Training Area in the whole Division of Guimaras as again Mr. Rey Mercolino as the school coordinator.
In the year 2011 the school rank number one in the Search for the Most Functional Gulayan sa Paaralan in Guimaras high school category.
TLE coordinator Mr. Mercolino, said the project raises public awareness that the schools are also the best venue to disseminate information to children on the importance of producing and eating vegetable. He also emphasized the significance of establishing vegetable school gardens or “Gulayan sa Paaralan” in public elementary schools to address malnutrition problem which affects some children in public schools thus, the program continue to go on through the years. (Sheryl Galvan)