Gender and Development

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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.

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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 grew 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 maximimize the utilization of the area and to have additional revenue for the benefit of the general memebership.  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 commerical establishments found in the locality.

The cooperative was also able to acquire its own machineries 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 top soil 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 will power 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.