Pack up, ship out, grow strong

The WorldVeg Genebank is now packing kits containing seed of six fast-growing, nutritious traditional vegetables for distribution to 1,020 families vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 near the community of Los Baños in southwestern Luzon, the Philippines.

The seed kits, developed in partnership with the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, Philippines with support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Taiwan, provide enough seed to plant a 10 m2 plot for each crop: amaranth, Malabar spinach, jute mallow, okra, mungbean, and kangkong. Each kit includes a booklet with planting instructions in Tagalog and English.

“When a person can consume vegetables they have produced at home, it can help ensure their diets retain nutritional quality,” said Marco Wopereis, WorldVeg Director General. “A home garden can offer some resilience to overcome shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.”

WorldVeg formed a COVID-19 Task Force in early April to plan active responses to alleviate disruptions in food access and to conduct strategic research to understand the pandemic’s effects on food systems.

“We checked our seed stocks and selected six quick-growing crops,” said WorldVeg Genebank Manager Maarten van Zonneveld. Germination tests were conducted to ensure the seed was viable. “We then notified partners in the Philippines about the seed, and the bureau responded.”

The seed kits will first be checked at the Taiwan Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) and a phytosanitary certificate obtained before the seed is sent to the Philippines on June 4.

Photos by Vanna Liu.


Planting instructions

Grow vegetables!

Seed for resilience!

(left to right) Jessica Chang, Maarten van Zonneveld, and Marco Wopereis check the contents of a seed kit. Fast-growing vegetables produced at home can add a quick nutritional boost to diets.

Hsin-yi Lung (foreground) and Chun-Chou Chen pack seed in foil packets to retain quality.