Greening for the Watershed

Residents of Brgy. Poblacion in Kasibu town and nearby communities are worry-free as they still enjoy free water supply coming from Magpayao Watershed, an area enriched through the National Greening Program (NGP).

According to local officials, Magpayao Watershed usually runs out of water during summer seasons but not until they started planting forest trees to the 50-hectare watershed area in 2012 through the NGP grant awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the Local Government Unit of Kasibu.

The barren areas in the watershed were planted with around 50,000 forest trees which include Narra, Tuai and Mahogany that are a decade old now.

Bukod sa sinusuplayan ng watershed ang munisipyo namin, nakakatulong din ito sa hanap-buhay ng mga nasa komunidad ng Magpayao,” said Eva Budong, environmental management specialist of Kasibu.

With the assistance of the DENR, the municipal ENR office conducts regular monitoring in the watershed as they ensure no resident is conducting illegal activities in the forested areas.

The LGU also manage a Municipal Ecological Forest Park, an NGP plantation established in barangay Alloy in 2011. The area is planted with tree species to include Narra, Tuai, Mahogany, Alnus, Tibig, Rubber Tree and coffee.

The park also houses several livelihood initiatives of the municipality such as bee culturing, mushroom production, vermicomposting, and wild pig farming.

Bukod sa tourism na pwedeng mai-offer ng NGP plantation, nagsimula rin kaming magsagawa ng iba’t-ibang livelihood activities dito para ma-introduce din namin ito sa mga residente ng Kasibu,” said Budong. She explained these livelihood alternatives shall help divert the attention of some residents who practice slash-and-burn farming.

NOT HINDERED BY AGE. Age is not an excuse to be supportive to the government's reforestation program.
This is proven by a 65-year old woman living in a rural barangay of Peñablanca, Cagayan.
Editha Manuel chairs the Green Valley Bical-Baliuag Upland Farmers Association, a people’s organization (PO) beneficiary of the National Greening Program (NGP).
In her first meeting with DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan, Manuel narrated that they used to practice monocropping before NGP was implemented. "Pero nung pumasok ang NGP, maganda pala yung may inaasahang iba," she continued.
The DENR has partnered with the association for a comprehensive site development of cacao plantation in 2017 and 2018. The project covers 105 hectares in Barangay Baliuag. The PO is responsible in seedling production, social mobilization, establishment of hedgerows, and plantation maintenance and protection.
Bilang isang magsasaka, pagkatapos ng anihan ay wala nang gagawin. Kaya kailangan may ibang pagkaabalahan as additional source of income,” Manuel said.
With her produce of bananas which she planted as hedgerows in her NGP plantation, Manuel is now earning through her “Ate Edith’s Banana Chips.”
According to Manuel, there are times that freshly harvest bananas are low-priced. She decided to venture on banana chips processing to ensure that she gains from her produce.
The PO chairperson narrated how she was able to converge with other government agencies for technical capability trainings and for the packaging of her products.
Director Bambalan thanked Manuel for supporting the reforestation program of the DENR. “Sana pagbutihin pa ninyo at pagandahin ang inyong plantasyon para pagbalik namin ay namumunga na ang inyong tanim na cacao,” she enthused.
She assured Manuel that the DENR will assist her in marketing her products.
Masaya po kami na nabibisita po kami ng officials. Nararamdaman po namin na may care kayo sa amin,” Manuel said in closing.#
Wala po itong rambutan kung wala ang DENR. Isa po ito sa pinagkukunan ng allowance ng tatlong anak kong kolehiyo.” Thus said Donato Gammad, chairperson of the Kadikitan Association for Community Development (KAFCD) in Nagtipunan, Quirino.
KAFCD, a people’s organization (PO) with over 200 members, is a partner of the DENR in the National Greening Program (NGP).
During the site visit and interaction with DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan, Gammad and other members of the PO narrated how the NGP is able to uplift their socio-economic condition. “Noong 2018 nga po, kumita ako ng P120,000,” Gammad said.
In 2011, the DENR has entered into a memorandum of agreement with KAFCD for the development of a 10-hectare fruit orchard in support of NGP. The plantation is within the 4,958-hectare Community-Based Forest Management area awarded to them by the DENR in 1994.
The rambutan plantation of Gammad used to be a grassland covered with shrubs and cogon. With NGP, it now serves as a show window of the community where his neighbors are also encouraged to plant.
Sa pamamagitan po ng DENR, kami pong mga people’s organizations ang isa sa pinakamatibay na katuwang ng pamahalaan sa environmental protection,” Gammad said. He expressed optimism that the program of the government for forest and watershed management through the NGP will continue.
The PO chairperson also voiced elation over the visit of the regional executive director. "Sa totoo lang po, sa tagal na namin dito eh kayo po ang unang RED na bumisita sa amin," Gammad said.
Adjacent to Gammad’s plantation is the Cagayan River which supports the Upper Cagayan River Watershed and the sub-watersheds of Gibien, Gawagan and Nalongtotan.
In her message, Director Bambalan thanked the KAFCD for supporting the government’s efforts to rehabilitate the forests and watersheds. She said NGP is one of the programs of the DENR that aims to mitigate the effects of climate change while providing additional income thereby improving the quality of life of the upland communities.
“Masaya ako dahil ang financial assistance na binigay sa inyo ng gobyerno ay inyo pong inayos. Natutuwa po ang aming opisina kapag ganyan ang mga PO,” RED Bambalan said.
The regional environment chief vowed that the DENR will coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry to help the members in marketing their harvests. “Napakagandang prutas ang rambutan. In terms of demand, wala kayong problema. Kung paano lang makarating sa tamang merkado para mas maganda ang presyo,” she said.
Salamat at maayos ninyong inimplement ang NGP. Kahit papano, meron na kayong nakikitang stable source of income,” Director Bambalan said in closing.#

Looking for inspiration to start or continue with the National Greening Program (NGP)? Learn from the success of the Bugkalot Casecnan Coffee Producers Cooperative (BCCPC).  

In 2014, the BCCP partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for a 200-hectare site for the NGP. This area is planted with coffee. After four years of maintenance and protection, the project yielded a product that rocked the international market.

The product, named Bugkalot Coffee, comes in a package of 250 grams of ground coffee beans which is at par with those produced by Latin America, Eastern Africa and Arabia. Its smooth taste and relaxing aroma when brewed captivates the taste of every coffee lover. Best roasters classify the Bugkalot Coffee as Grade 1 to 2 following the coffee standards.

This Pinoy product was first introduced by Mr. Joseph C. Tan-chi, Chairman of the Bugkalot Coffee Company, Inc. (BCCI), to his friends in the United States who later considered it to be the best gift during special occasions because of its quality and aroma. Besides,  the price is a bit lower than the best in the international market considering that it is a starter.

Bugkalot Coffee is also offered in the form of roasted coffee beans. The roasted product is being distributed to a coffee company who converts these roasted beans to granules. This company advised the BCCI to join in the Manila Coffee Festival in 2018 to advertise the Bugkalot Coffee.

In 2018, BCCI decided to introduce Bugkalot Coffee in the market by participating in the Manila Coffee Festival. The Cooperative did not have the apprehension that it will run out of supply because of the festival’s limited duration that also limited the interested buyers. It was thinking that the product will be fully advertised only when supplies are sufficient to address the bigger demand.

The problem on supply is addressed when the yield of coffee tremendously increased. “We got a surprising yield of 2.5 tons in 2018 compared to 300 kilograms in 2017,” Tan-chi proudly declared.

Today, through the support of the Department of Agriculture and the Municipal Local Government Unit of Dupax Del Sur, BCCI and BCCPC easily acquired the machineries used for coffee processing. They are now using one Dehuller machine used in peeling the cherries and Depulper machine for removing the pulp after the red cherries are picked from the coffee bushes before fermentation.

The members of the BCCPC are very lucky. They found a partner, the BCCI, who did not only uplift their economic status but more importantly, brought missionaries that have awaken their spiritual life. The sweet aroma of success indeed!#

In the heydays of the yesteryears, every Filipino adored the beauty of this body of water. With its crystalline surface, tranquil environment and captivating scenery— that’s the Manila Bay our old foks had cherised for a long time. 

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