Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Introducing Simplified Hydroponics in Manila Philippines, Payatas, Quezon City

Community response after tragedy

by Peggy Bradley
Executive Director
Institute for Simplified Hydroponics

In March of 2000, Bert van Ommen ordered a few kits from the Institute for Simplified Hydroponics, and received a copy of the book "Home Hydroponic Gardens". The book, written by Peggy Bradley and Cesar Marulanda introduces the methods of simplified hydroponics. It is intended to introduce this low cost technology to people who wish to start their own gardens to supply food for their own use and for additional family income.

Bert started his project in Payatas, Quezon City outside Manila. After starting the project in with the urban poor living in the landfill, this site became internationally known. On July 10th, a landslide of urban garbage fell and buried a part of the community and an estimated 150 people lost their lives. Most of these where children, many who are living on their own at the site.

As Bert explained "You may also have heard or read about the disaster that struck Payatas, the dumpsite in Quezon City, Metro Manila, where tons of solid waste and thrash slid down and killed hundreds of people. It is exactly in this area where I started our pilot project with the aim to provide the scavengers (waste-pickers) and other urban poor with an alternative livelihood activity and to improve on their nutritional intake, especially for the children.

"This disaster delayed implementation. We were all too busy with disaster relief work and now slowly the rehabilitation phase is starting. If you wish to have a bit more background information about Payatas, please visit my son's web site

The place that was struck by the disaster is ironically called "Lupang Pangako", translated as "Promised Land". But we as a project claim this as the Promised Land for these people.

We will establish three Training-Demo Centers (TDC) in Payatas. At these centers, we will pilot the most appropriate techniques and also learn the basics of horticulture, since none of us are horticulturists.

The people will receive training in the hydroponics as well as training in institution building, strengthening of capabilities and capacities, marketing, etc. In short, a holistic approach to community development.

We now have just enough resources for the establishment of the first TDC, a lot of effectively 60 square meters, a small, but appropriate size to start with and I have a Core Group of 12 people (of whom 8 are women), all citizens of Payatas) who are the pioneers of this project.

The project will be cosponsored by Operation Blessing Foundation, Philippines. This organization is well established and has an outstanding track record. I have been working closely together with them in Payatas. The responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of this project is with the "Payatas Pastors for Christ Movement (PPCM)".

A group of pastors from the different evangelical, full gospel, born again, etc.. churches in Payatas who organised themselves to pull together their socio-economic resources.

It is now time to generate some funding from other sources and technical input. Until date we have been able to sustain on a very low budget (approx. $500.00 only, incl. the kits I ordered from you) and lots of voluntary (unpaid) inputs, including mine.

Last week the Core Group established several seedbeds at their homes and meanwhile we are constructing the first training center from bamboo and craters-wood (from used pallets, etc.) which we get from the harbor to construct the several types of grower-beds.

What we need now is:

(1) technical assistance and some inputs such as the appropriate set of nutrients. (Certified seeds I can get from the Department of Agriculture).

(2) Financial resources.

Agency Requesting Funding:

Operation Blessing Foundation, Philippines

4/F Sagittarius Condominium, H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City - 1227, Philippines. Tel. +63-2-8124747 ext/loc. "OB". Fax. +63-2-8181620. Contact Persons:

(1) Dra. Kim April Pascual, M.D., Executive vice-President & Chief Operation Officer, e-mail: HYPERLINK .

(2) Bert van Ommen, Consultant. Address: 6 Dansalan Rd., Philam Homes, West Ave., Quezon City 1104, M.M., Philippines. Tel. (+63-2) 927-0566. e-mail:

Implementing Agency:

Payatas Pastors for Christ Movement (PPCM), c/o Payatas Disciple Church, Lupang Pangako, Urban, Payatas-B, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Type of Community/Beneficiaries:

Urban poor, in particular the scavengers community and informal settlers.


The project is local in scope, covering selected areas that are inhabited by scavengers and settlers located next and near to the city's dumpsite for solid waste in Barangay Payatas of Quezon City.

Age: The project intends to reach all ages. Implementation of the project activities will primarily focus on the un-and under-employed adults and youth, while the products of this project will benefit all, especially the malnourished children.

Ratio of women to men: At the level of decision-making, overall management and immediate involvement of the activities at least 2/3 are women. At the level of implementation of the day to day activities men and women are equally involved.

9. Project Duration: Three years - From 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2003

10. Funding for the total period of three years: Total amount is P.5,927,000.= (:44 = US $135,000.00) (100%) broken down as: P. 750,000.= (12.65%) own contribution P. 1,590,000.= (26.83%) from Local Funders P. 3,587,000.= (60.52%) from Overseas

Summary of the Project:

The project aims to introduce, develop and promote community-based and at low-cost hydroponically grown food production, in particular vegetables, among poor Filipinos residing in the urban areas. It will enable these sectors to produce hydroponically-grown crops all year round for themselves and their neighboring communities, allowing them to meet their own nutritional requirements and complement to their daily income. Ultimately, the project seeks to empower these disadvantaged sectors of society to become active participants in the country's drive toward agricultural modernization and attainment of food security. Hydroponics is a new technology for the Philippines. A handful of small to medium size commercial hydroponics farms exists only since a few years.

Community-Based Hydroponics is a new concept in the Philippines. Simplified Hydroponics was introduced over a decade ago in several Latin American and few African countries with good results.

Consumption of vegetables is regarded as a luxury for the urban poor, due to its high costs, since vegetable are imported from the mountainous regions some 150 Km north of Manila. Due to this fact the incidence of malnutrition, especially among infants and young children is even higher among the urban poor then the national average indicates.

The great challenge in this project is to contribute to an ongoing Community Transformation process through a community-based and empowering process approach. Community Transformation is therefore the prevailing guiding principle for implementation of this project.

The project will establish three Training-Demo Centers and will provide technical assistance to communal and individual hydroponic gardens. The implementation will follow a Project Cycle Management (PCM) approach which starts with an inception/preparation phase followed by three major implementation stages over a total period of three years, i.e. the Piloting stage (Phase I), Replication stage (Phase II) and the Adaptation, Consolidation and Phase-out stage (Phase III). A participatory monitoring and evaluation system will be put in place to closely follow the progress during and after each phase. The outcome and conclusions of each assessment will be used as input for the next phase.

Overall Goal:

Attain food-security and food-sufficiency for the poor and disadvantaged sector of society, through a process of community transformation and empowerment.

Payatas grown vegetables are widely accepted; "Payatas" does not connote to the word "Dumpsite" anymore.

Impact Evaluation 3 years after project completion.

Project Purpose: A fully operational and sustainable production and marketing systems of Hydroponically grown crops independently managed by the urban poor of Payatas, through a community-based process , allowing them to meet their own nutritional requirements and earn additional cash.

Return on Investment, of min. 15% is sufficient to motivate people to continue and expand the project activities on their own;

Three Training-Demo Centers are established and in full operation at strategically selected sites in Payatas and managed under supervision of the funders; The results and lessons learned from the research and piloting activities are well documented and made available to the public;

A core group from the local community, of whom at least 2/3rd are women, have been trained and are qualified to operate and manage the 3 training centers and to train others in the low-cost Hydroponics technology;

The beneficiaries, of whom at last 2/3rd are women, are organized into an association or cooperative for the sole purpose of establishing hydroponics gardens and marketing of its products;

Members of the association/cooperative are trained and equipped to establish and manage their own hydroponic gardens and related activities, such as, among others the implementation of savings & loan schemes and marketing strategies;

Support services, such, among others, potable water systems, mechanisms for the supply of the required agricultural inputs and building up a network are in place.

The 3 training centers are established and fully operational by December 2000. No, or at least minimal political interference that may stop the project; Favorable developments regarding land ownership; No demolition orders

Activities & Inputs: In following the Project Cycle Management concept for implementation the major project phases identified, are: Inception Period: Prepare the necessary project documents, raise funds, establish the basic management and administrative facilities, work out the required procedures and guidelines and collect the necessary baseline data. Negotiate and agree with the participating CBOs and communities on the three (3) sites for the establishment of the TDCs.

Phase I - Piloting: Establish the training centers. Research and test for the most appropriate steps of action and techniques to be studied and tried during this phase, through a Participatory Action Research (PAR). Design and conduct trainings, information and demonstration modules. Development of the appropriate monitoring and appraisal systems. This will be done in close collaboration with assistance from the academe and the corporate establishments. An intensive participatory assessment will be conducted at the end of Phase I to determine the lessons learned, which will contribute to the design for the next phase.

Phase II - Replication: Phase II will introduce and replicate the successful pilot activities at a larger scale among the other members. This include the development of a profitable model for production and marketing, and the introduction and training of the appropriate technical and management skills, skills on basic trade and marketing, and promotion and awareness campaigns on the nutritional values of vegetables for the participants within an association/cooperative set-up.

This also includes the introduction of a micro-finance (savings & credit) mechanism. At the end of this phase again an intensive participatory assessment will be conducted and the output of this assessment and the lessons learned will be used as input for the third phase.

Phase III - Adaptation, Consolidation and Phase-out: The successes of Phase II will be transferred to the beneficiaries and transformed towards ownership and full responsibility by the association/ cooperative, following the natural growth pattern and development processes in the community. External inputs will be limited to technical advice and consultations only, while financial and other resources will come from the participants themselves or through their own efforts of networking and negotiations from other, third party resources. A lobby and network mechanism will be put in place for this purpose. The lessons learned throughout the project cycle will be consolidated and the external inputs will phase-out. Means: Project Management Unit; Technical Assistance Adequate (voluntary) staff; Equipment; Transportation (vehicle, motorcycle); Technical expertise;

Costs: Production Costs Technical Assistance Support Services Contingencies Estimated costs 6.0 million Pesos over 3 years. Assumptions: Continued support from the Local government in obtaining the required licenses and certificates (ECC, etc); No negative strings attached by donors; Fulfillment of the commitments made by external agencies & donors; Required agricultural inputs remain locally available at an affordable price; Preconditions: To be able to begin we need sites for the three training centers. These sites must have sufficient funds to start, adequate water supply and adequate security measures for the Project facilities;

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Revised December 5, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture