The Philippine Star
By Sherwin B. Manual
March 13, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is rehabilitating major watersheds critical to the effort to boost food production in Mindanao.
The Mindanao Rural Development Prog-ram (MRDP), the DAâ€™s flagship poverty alleviation program, is implementing on-the ground investments to salvage the degrading natural resources in Mindanao, particularly watershed.
Program director Lealyn A. Ramos said these watersheds have great agricultural potentials but are now less productive since they have been overly exploited and misused.
â€œWatershed sustains life form of plants, animals and human. And aside from providing water, itâ€™s also the source of fiber, food, medicine and livelihoods but most of our watersheds are exploited beyond their capacity,â€ Ramos added.
To program is implementing environmental projects in 12 critical watersheds in all of the six regions in Mindanao.
These watersheds include RT Lim and Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay in Region 9; Linamon, Lanao del Norte and Sogbongcogon, Misamis Oriental in Region 10; Don Marcelino, Davao del Sur and San Isidro, Davao Oriental in Region 11; Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat and Malapatan, Sarangani Province in Region 12; Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte in Caraga Region andÂ Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao and Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
â€œThe sites were selected based certain criteria but most especially the interconnectivity of the upland, the lowland and the coastal areas,â€ Ramos said.
The program allocates a total of P7 million for each town beneficiary.
The projects implemented are agro-reforestation, river bank stabilization, mangrove rehabilitation, establishment of marine protected area, fish sanctuary and fishery reserves and coral restoration.
Ridge to reef
With focus on Mt. Hamiguitan in San Isidro, Davao Oriental watershed, the ridge-to-reef landscape is expected to nurture more diverse flora and fauna as the local government and MRPD implement a 136-hectare watershed rehabilitation with rubber-based farming on hilly lands amounting to close to P5 million. While, P2 million were earmarked on the coastal areas projects which include 7.5-hectare mangrove rehabilitation and setting up of five hectares fish sanctuary and marine reserves.
The Mt. Hamiguitan mountain range and wild life sanctuary was declared protected area under RA 9303 of 2002. It is home to Mandaya tribe, the Philippine Eagle, important raw materials and some highly prized natural bonsai forming the popular â€œpygmy forest.â€
About three communities in Linamon town have engaged in agroforestry conservation and ecotourism development for its 12 hectares forest cover which house the one of provinceâ€™s tourist spot the Tinago Falls.
The town of Don Marcelino has completed its 200-hectare Nuvada Watershed reforestation and has another on-going project.
Similarly, RT Lim town has completed the 100-hectare reforestation activities.
The coastal community of Kalamansig is now rearing mangroves planted to its 20 hectares coastal area which is part of its P2 million mangrove rehabilitation project.
The 100-hectare agro-reforestation program in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte is now thriving and the community is seeing the promise of its fruit trees.
While ARMM has planted various fruit-bearing trees in 128-hectare area in the mountains of Datu Odin Sinusat town and mangroves in a 15-hectare coast line.
â€œWe aim to holistically arrest the environmental problem. We know that activities in the upland areas have downstream impact in the low land communities and the coastal areas,â€ said Ramos.
â€œWe started to implement these projects in 2008 and most of these hard investments were reported to be complete but we need to wait for the full gestation period to really see the impacts of these,â€ Ramos said noting that the program and the LGU beneficiaries are positive about the initial results of their efforts.
The report of the Bureau of Water and Soils Management (BSWM) said that in these watersheds, the soils, land and water resources are overly exploited resulting to low productivity of various farm areas.
BSWM is one of the attached agencies of the Program tasked to undertake technical support for the program along with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
â€œWith appropriate land use technology and farming systems we can revive the agricultural potential of these watersheds,â€ said Ramos, adding that:
â€œThis (project) is in partnership with the LGUs. Aside from having direct helm of project implementation the vital role of the LGU is legislation the necessary ordinances to sustain and protect upland, lowland and coastal resources.â€