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Editha Manuel, chairperson of the Baliuag-Bical Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (BBUFAI) is a dedicated woman farmer behind the productive cacao plantation under the implementation of the DENR’s greening program in the municipality of Peňablanca.

“Lubos ang aking pasasalamat sa DENR dahil sa kabuhayang binibigay sa aming mga miyembro ng BBUFAI.  Sa ngayon, kumikita na ako galing sa NGP,” said chairperson Editha Manuel.

Manuel was awarded 10-hectare NGP site in Barangay Baliuag in 2017.

“Sobrang nahirapan ako sa pagpapalaki ng cacao dala ng epekto ng climate change. Akala ko hindi lalago ng ganito ang aking mga tanim,” she added.

She cited the consistent technical assistance and support extended by the DENR personnel during the early stage of her plantation.

Through the returns of NGP, Manuel was able to put up a store to sell cacao tablea and banana crackers in the community. 

According to her, the said native product delicacies are also sold in one of the convenience stores in Tuguegarao City.  Likewise, she regularly supplies fresh banana as meal dessert for patients confined in a government hospital in the city.

The banana intercropped within the cacao trees was their best practice as it serves as shield from direct sunlight.  In this way, the problem in growing the cacao trees was addressed.  “Habang hinihintay naming mamunga ang cacao, nakatulong pa ang saging sa pangkabuhayan namin maliban sa naging solusyon ito sa paglaki ng mga cacao. Hindi kagaya noon na luging-lugi kami sa aming maisan,” she added.

The chairperson, who is fondly called “Ate Edith” by her peers has been a model to her NGP co-beneficiaries.  She patiently grew the trees in her area and educate other members in the community to conduct replanting activities and plant more trees to attain a high survival rate.  Her four skilled staff in cacao tablea and banana cracker processing were trained under the supervision of Manuel.

Meanwhile, father and daughter Dominador and Joan Kainggitan, also NGP beneficiaries and BBFUAI members, expressed how the program changed their lives as they had been longing to acquire lots but to no avail. 

“Binago ng NGP ang buhay naming magsasaka.  Kung dati, salat kami sa pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan, ngayon ay mas magaan na ang aming pamumuhay sa tulong ng aming mga ani mula sa mga fruit bearing trees,” Joan said.

As the NGP goes on, these stakeholders are continuously maintaining the trees they planted.  Constant replanting and monitoring in the plantation site are now part of their daily activities. 

According to them, they are in full support of this project to secure them on food supply and to cope with the impact of climate change. 

The BBUFAI members who were awarded 67.8 for 2017 and 2018 pledged to attain a 100% survival of their plantations.#

 

The members of Fusina Agro-Forest Developers Association, Inc. (FAFDAI) are now enjoying the outcome of NGP implemented in Barangay Fusina, Lal-lo.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa DENR sa kanilang walang sawang pagsubaybay sa pagpapatupad ng NGP at ngayo’y matagumpay na naming narating.  Malaking tulong sa amin ang benepisyo nito hindi lamang sa kinikita namin ngayon kundi sa pagpapanumbalik ng ganda ng kapaligiran sa pamamagitan ng mga punong aming itinanim,” said FAFDAI chairperson Reymund Rigon.

The 10 association members awarded with five hectares each are currently maintaining the full grown forest and fruit trees planted in the 50-hectare plantation established in 2012. 

The forest and fruit trees were intercropped with high-value commercial crops to augment their reforestation needs.

Rigon has appreciated the implementation of NGP as it improved their living condition particularly in meeting their basic needs.

“Through the proceeds of our harvests, we were able to acquire an SUV car and a tractor on installment basis,” he added.

His wife, punong barangay Elizabeth Rigon, said they took the challenges they encountered at the beginning of the program.  Other members resisted to continue because of the hardship in growing and maintaining the trees planted.

The Rigon family were not discouraged, instead, they set an example to others to pursue what they have started.

“Karamihan sa mga miyembro ay dating tambay, nagsusugal at umiinom ng alak.  Hindi sila nakikipagtulungan.  Hanggang nakita nila na lumalago na ang aming mga tanim, doon na sila nabuhayan ng loob na kaya namin basta’t may tiyaga at pagsisikap,” said the punong barangay.

She added a fire had almost hit their area but because of persistence of the members to attain success, this did not hinder them to do replanting and maintenance activities.

“Kami ay nagagalak sa pagdating ng NGP sa aming lugar.  Natuto ang mga tao, lumago ang kabundukan at natustusan ang pag-aaral ng aking anak ganundin sa pamilya ng aming kasamahan sa asosasyon.  May nakapagtapos na ng abogasya, accountancy at information technology sa kanilang pamilya,” she claimed.

The good harvest they are gaining from the fruit trees inspires them not only to engage more with the government efforts to rehabilitate denuded and idle areas but also to become a model in their community in environmental protection and conservation. 

Truly, the challenges they conquered received gains in the end.

 

A family-managed plantation of forest and fruit trees in Barangay Cadaanan, Solana town is now a haven of a spectacular landscape and an environment free from any kind of pollution.

Waving greens in the area are the lines and rows of Gmelina and the vast variety of mango guyabano and kalamansi which offered a calming view in the plantation.

“Para sa aming mga magsasaka, ang NGP ng DENR) ang pinakamagandang programa ng gobyerno dahil sa malaking ambag nito sa pangangalaga ng kalikasan at kabuhayan ng pamilya sa komunidad.

NGP beneficiary Martin Soriano stressed this as he counts the economic and environmental impacts of NGP to his family.

“Malaking katulungan sa pamilya ko ang NGP.  Dahil dito, nagkaroon ako ng lupa at mga tanim na siyang naging dahilan kung bakit naging doble pa ang pagsisikap na ginagawa ko ngayon sa aming NGP area,” he added.

In 2013, the DENR awarded almost 18 hectares to him and his children Mark Anthony, Christian Keith and Marigold.  They are the most active NGP beneficiaries under the jurisdiction of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Solana.

According to Soriano, the forest and fruit trees he planted are inspiring him to frequently visit and monitor the site.  As of now, his family is enjoying the fruits of their labor.

With their regular harvest of forest trees and other cash crops, the needs of their respective families are augmented.  In addition, they are enjoying the aesthetic values of trees receiving a hug from the fresh air and moist coming from the trees. 

When they harvest, they also extend fruits and other crops to the community as one way of sharing their blessings.  They do this to inspire their neighbors to plant trees even in their own backyard if they do not have bigger space.

“Noong lumalaki na ang aking mga itinanim, mas lalo akong napamahal sa kalikasan. Mula noon, nagfocus na ako sa aking taniman.  Nakikipag-ugnayan ako sa mga may malalagong taniman kung paano gagawin yung mga paraan para mabilis lumago ang mga puno at bungang-kahoy,” Soriano said when asked how he beat the challenge of growing trees.

Soriano was happy to share that some of their income from their harvests were not only used for their day-to-day living but also for maintaining the farm especially for replanting activities. 

With the help of NGP and other sources of income, the family was able to acquire farm equipment and put up a bunkhouse where his family opted to stay to feel a relaxing ambiance.  

A fish pond was also established which serves as food and water sources to augment their living. Flowing water from the upstream also exists within the plantation.  All these resources were made possible through the NGP.

“Sobrang init dito noon dahil nakatiwangwang lang ang lupa.  Nagayon, marami ng interesadong magtanim at magkaroon din ng sariling plantasyon.  Salamat sa pagmamahal ng DENR.  Sana patuloy pa rin ang NGP sapagkat ito na ang buhay namin,” he emphasized.

With all the gains from NGP, the Sorianos’ nod to push through with the reforestation program of the DENR was the best decision they ever made.  Having not, their natural talent in growing and nurturing trees will not be discovered.  Indeed, their green thumbs paid off.

 

Coffee beans taste sweet.

This is how the NGP beneficiaries of the Masisit-Dacal Cooperative (Mascoop) expressed elation of what their NGP site located in So. Malukit, Centro II, Sanchez Mira, have it become.  The hardships and struggles in growing and nurturing their coffee plantation were evident of their success.  They managed to grow a bean into brew.

Way back in 2012, the Mascoop was initially awarded 20 hectares starting only with 8,000 coffee seedlings planted.  With the fast pace of implementing the project, it was later expanded into 80 hectares introducing cacao as another prime commodity planted.

During the early years and while waiting for the fruiting and harvest period, the cooperative-beneficiaries adopted an intercropping scheme to maximize the utilization of the area and to have additional revenue for the benefit of the general membership.  High-value commercial crops planted were pineapple, banana and coconut.

The first few years of harvest from the coffee were solely used as seed source for seedling production to complement their nursery project.  Some are being sold to private individuals and the others are used for replanting.  This is one good practice they do to maintain the reforestation project. 

Today, the cooperative is not only winning a good harvest from the plantation but also providing local job opportunities. 

“Through the proceeds of NGP, we are now able to draw salaries of the 15 employees maintaining our plantation.  Some of these employees belong to the Agta tribal community living near our plantation,” said Fely Jean Pacris, Mascoop marketing officer. 

Pacris said the maintenance team in the plantation site is one of the cooperative’s departments created to regularly monitor the plantation development.

They now process and produce their own products ‘kapeng barako’ and pineapple vinegar which are sold in various trade fairs and exhibits as well as in commercial establishments found in the locality.

The cooperative was also able to acquire its own machinery for processing of their products.  They are now partnering with the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment for a higher market of their product.

Though just started to boom, the beneficiaries are confident that this is now the start of their dream to expand their production and become suppliers to big companies needing coffee and cacao raw materials.

According to Pacris, the NGP site before was unproductive, covered with intense grasses and no one braves to enter the place because of its closed and unwanted appearance.

Who would ever believe that the vast idle land will turn into an inspiring landscape and gave bigger returns to the adopters.  With the depleted topsoil before, it’s almost a miracle for this piece of land to nourish green.

But true enough, the concerted efforts from the government and the community worked out.  DENR personnel had non-stop monitoring and technical assistance from site development, nursery establishment, outplanting up to the assessment and maintenance of the seedlings planted.  

Problems during implementation are normal.  They, too, had encountered challenges on social acceptability.  They hardly got others convinced to engage with the program. But as their site develop, the members finally supported the reforestation program.

Pacris added that embarking on the program is not an easy task.  Handling a coffee plantation takes a lot of effort and willpower to see the project through.  For them, their motto is, “If there is a will, there will have definitely a way.”

With the abundance from the returns of the plantation complemented with the support of various government agencies, the beneficiaries have testified that the NGP is the main foundation of all the gains they are reaping.

 

High oxygen-producer, soil erosion cutter, riverbanks stabilizer, watersheds regulator, water discharge controller, water nutrients recycler, among others.

Local residents of Barangay Pussian in the town of Alcala are now recipients of these awesome benefits of bamboo considering the 50 hectares bamboo plantation maintained by 10 NGP beneficiaries.

“Malaking tulong sa aming komunidad ang kawayan. Maliban sa maaari naming pagkakitaan, nagsisilbi itong proteksiyon laban sa pagguho ng lupa lalo na kung may bagyo at kalamidad.  Nabibiyayaan din kami ng saganang katubigan na siyang ginagamit namin sa araw-araw naming pamumuhay,” said punong barangay Gerardo Garma.

With the four-year old bamboo plantation established in the area, the bamboos as fast grower and equally stronger with a steel, is starting to provide initial harvests and food supply for the community. 

Recently, the beneficiaries sold more than 200 bamboo poles and they too, had several harvest on other commodities intercropped like ginger and peanut which are found productive in the shaded area. However, bamboo shoots were only harvested as their food consumption since they prioritize growing the said species.

According to Garma, the site was previously planted with corn. “Sa tulong ng NGP, naiwasan na ang pagtatanim ng mga mais. Naging dahilan ito upang makatulong sa kalikasan at magkaroon kami ng karagdagang pangkabuhayan,” he added.

He said the plantation is giving the residents fresh air and protection against soil erosion especially during the onslaught of disasters and calamities.

As he recalled the damages brought about by Typhoon Ulysses in Cagayan in 2020, Garma emphasized the growing bamboos along their vicinity will serve as their shield to spare them from flooding.

Bayanihan spirit is one of the best practices they are employing.  They visit the area once a month and do replanting, cleaning, weeding and brushing activities. Beneficiaries who cannot make it will be fined 500 pesos of which will become their revolving fund.

“Masuwerte kami at nabigyan kami ng ganitong proyekto. Salamat sa DENR sa palaging pagsubaybay sa amin,” he added.

The punong barangay is optimistic that someday, a better future for his constituents will come.

“Mahirap ang buhay namin dito sa Pussian.  Kaya pinagbubuti pa namin ang pag-aalaga sa aming taniman lalo na sa mga bamboo.  Kapag dumami at harvestable na ang mga ito, madali na lang kaming makapanghikayat ng gustong mag-invest sa aming mga bamboo,” he further added.

He also said one must persevere in growing and maintaining the bamboo plantation in order to achieve 100 percent survival.

They also committed to equally complement how the bamboo managed to grow and stand tall so that they too, as farmers, can become as strong as the bamboo species.