What started to be a small youth group in Sto. Domingo, Quirino, Isabela, whose aim is to mitigate and be part of the 2030 Agenda solution for Sustainable Development Goals (SGD), is now part of a massive agriculture advocate community.

The Quirinian Youth in Action (QYA) formulated an immediate action to be part of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) most effective campaign in combatting the pandemic.

Their initiative, “Project Aking Gulayan sa Bakuran/Bukirin ay Iingatan at Aalagaan para sa Ginintuang Kinabukasan (AGBIAG)” is heeding the call to DA’s program in beefing up food security during Covid-19 as part of the Ahon Lahat Pagkaing Sapat (Alpas) or known as Plant, Plant, Plant Program.

AGBIAG (an Iloco term which means to live) will encourage the citizens of the community, especially young individuals, to work on food production to attain food security, assist families in cultivating and producing fresh and organic crops, and provide alternative income generation for the unemployed youths, and farmers said on a report sent to DA.

“QYA conceptualized Project AGBIAG as an active and timely response during this time of Corona Virus Disease(COVID)-19 crisis as we shift from ECQ to “new normal” way of life,” said Jhonly R. Cacho, founder.

A collaboration of AGBIAG, DA RFO 02, LGU Quirino, and Philippine National Police

On May 28, 2020, the ALPAS was launched in the small village of Sto Domingo, where QYA collaborated with the DA Regional Field Office No. 02 (RFO 02).

Months have passed, yesterday, October 1, the group led the awarding ceremony for the best home gardens that came so viral in social media all over the country where everyone has become an instant gardener.

“Whether a professional or not, everyone became a plantito or plantita,” said Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulatory Rose Mary Aquino.

“But, QYA joined the craze and started an initiative to plant more vegetables that means you can be now more food secured.”

“It’s unimaginable that society, when all come together, can make a huge impact now. Look at the winners, from young, senior citizens, kiddie, and households all are vital in achieving our end goal,” Aquino added.

The DA RFO 02 also provided livestock to select youths as beneficiaries and conducted an orientation on possible loan program opportunities.

During the quarantine period, youths are not roaming around, accidents and crimes in the said municipality also decreased.

Meanwhile, Police Captain Rufo Figarola Jr., Chief of Police of Quirino launched this morning the Kalusugan at Kaligtasan para sa Kabataan program in collaboration with QYA.

“I see how proactive the youths here. They make things happen and harmonizing with them and with the DA will surely make an impact on attaining the SDG,” he said.

The Plant, Plant, Plant Program, according to Figarola, is a massive help for them in the law enforcement to adapt and partner with the local government, QYA, and the DA.

He added the urge to join hand in hand gave the idea of harmonizing these three essential elements of society. “We want to make QYA as a model youth organization in the whole of Isabela.”

Quality seedling production as a business enterprise

Through the DA Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), who granted budgets for this project, the group can propagate mass-quality planting materials through mass propagation techniques as their new business enterprise.

A total of 200 youths, households, and participants in the four (4) barangays, namely Sto. Domingo, Manaoag, Santiago, San Mateo here had benefited from this program.

“Now you can produce your quality seedlings, we in DA will help you find your market and consolidate the available materials for sale,” Aquino lamented.

In this way, the agripreneur mindset will be on the members as early seven (7) years old.

Aquino stressed that the DA BAR, through the leadership of Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, PhD., CESO IV, saw this organization’s potential as they developed youths in appreciating agriculture as careers and future food producers.

“That is why they added you on the Bayanihan We Recover As One Act 2 as the recipient,” she said.

Also, the DA Cagayan Valley Research Center launched the Mass production of quality planting materials through mass propagation techniques and protocols for selected lowland and indigenous vegetables to its partner beneficiaries who will act as the source of said materials.

Municipal Mayor Edward Juan expressed support to the participants.

“My office commits to support you and part of the excise tax from tobacco will pave the way to funding this project. I hope that it would be sustainable because this is something that is feasible for the government to invest with,” he said.

“I thank the group of the youth, officials, and residents of Barangay Sto. Domingo and Quirino, as a whole, for accepting this program aimed to ensure food security in our localities,” said Regional Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo.

“Since we cannot implement this alone, we are soliciting the municipal government’s continued support for its sustainability,” he said.