Since its inception in April 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SUGBUsog Program or Sugbuanong Busog, Luwas ug Himsog of the Cebu Provincial Government has benefited a lot of communities and has become a model for food security in the province and the entire country.
Like a seed that grew and developed, the SUGBUsog Program started with an idea: plant vegetables to fight boredom while at home and in quarantine.
But from being just a mere advocacy, the SUGBUsog has since become a successful food sustainability model of the province of Cebu that involves not just the local communities, but all the LGUs and national government agencies like the Department of Education and the Philippine National Police.
The program was initially conceptualized to encourage households and villages across the island to plant their own vegetables to become sustainable. But after seeing its benefits and success to the Cebuanos, the SUGBUsog — which is a brainchild of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, has since been replicated to public schools and police stations across the province to be part of the program.
Its offspring, the SUGBUsog sa Eskuylahan was launched last April 2021, which involves all public elementary and high schools throughout the province. And later on, the program expanded further and the SUGBUsog sa Estasyunan, involving the local police stations, was later launched. Like the participating LGUs in the original program, all public elementary and high schools, and the police stations within the province of Cebu competed with one another by coming up with the best organic backyard or containerized garden in their respective areas. Meantime, the Department of Agriculture provided free vegetable seedlings to all the participating households, LGUs, schools, and police stations.
SUGBUsog has evolved more than just a call for Cebuanos to be urban growers and live sustainable lives. It has changed the lives of many Cebuanos.
As a way to incentivize it and encourage more people to support the program, the SUGBUsog contest was later launched. Those who joined not only earned additional income from selling their produce, but some also received cash and recognition for winning the contest.
Many success stories have been created because of the vegetable gardening program, such as that of two-time SUGBUsog champion, Jesus Cortes of Mandaue City, who is a tricycle driver turned urban farming expert. There were also stories of schools that were able to make processed products out of their fresh harvests, and police stations being able to distribute their fresh produce to the families of their staff and even of their inmates.
The program encouraged community teamwork in purok levels and camaraderie among neighbors in the initial rollout of the program; and now among the students, teachers, and the police officers.