The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has initiated a program that aims to ensure food security in communities after the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 17, Caritas Philippines launched “Green Initiatives” to encourage dioceses and parishes to promote community farming and intensify their ecological campaigns.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary Caritas Philippines, said the program focuses on three major campaigns that the Catholic Church has been advocating.
The priest said the year-long program fosters organic integrated farming, the promotion of the Rights of Nature, and the divestment on dirty energy projects.
“The parish can initiate a simple parish food garden as an inspiration to the communities and would later be the source of vegetables for the parish needs,” said Father Gariguez.
The “Ecology Desk” of the diocese or the parish may demonstrate to families how to make their own backyard garden using the organic farming methods.
Father Gariguez called on dioceses to collaborate with government agencies that could help “provide farming services, such as vegetable seeds, tools, and technical assistance.”
The priest said the program aims to sustain food security initiatives in keeping healthy communities as preventive measures against COVID-19 and to provide food sufficiency for poor families, especially in rural areas.
The initiative is also a response to the global call to champion environmental protection and the promotion of Laudato si, the pope’s encyclical on the care of “Our Common Home.”
The launching of the program was part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Laudato si, which was released on May 24, 2015.
Also, part of the program is the “intensified lobbying” for the approval of the Rights of Nature bill in Congress that aims to acknowledge that “nature in all its forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate.”
“Communities can also lobby for local ordinances and policies supporting care for the environment and ensure its implementation,” said the priest.
“We will also continue our divestment campaign against coal projects and other dirty energy sources,” said Father Gariguez.
The priest encouraged church organizations and the private sector to “divest their accounts from dirty energy to institutions investing to clean and renewable energy.”
Father Gariguez said the coronavirus pandemic “not only calls for a social and structural change but for a very intimate ecological conversion and change in our ways toward the environment.”
He said the program could run “as long as it is needed to prepare” the communities and the whole country against the threat of another pandemic or crisis.
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