Arakan Valley is the economic and ecological lifeblood of some 60,000 Filipinos. For the indigenous Manobo Kulamanon and Tinananon tribes, forests are the seat of their religious and cultural identities.
But poverty, the exploding human population, and the increasing demand for food and space are causing massive deforestation in the area which in turn threatens the existence of the Philippine Eagle and other endangered species which have made Arakan Valley their home.
To address the issue, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) has come up with the five-year Arakan Forest Corridor Development Program (AFCDP), a community-based landscape approach to biodiversity conservation.
A significant component of AFCDP is to ensure the availability of hardwood seedlings for reforestation and afforestation as well as other crops such as cacao and fruit-bearing trees which can help augment the income of the residents.
PEF also realizes the importance of the private sector participation for the program to succeed, thus, it has partnered with leading telecommunications company Globe Telecom for the much needed funding support.
Through the P500,000 donation from Globe which partly came from the Globe Arakan XC fund-raising biking activity last year, PEF and Globe were able to put up a plant nursery with a target of 50,000 cacao seedlingsto be supplied by SeedCore.
Partner communities handle the planting of seedlings, nursery upkeep, and other reforestation activities. In return, they receive incentives in the form of basic services such as water systems, health or education services, and livelihood projects.
“We are excited about the cacao because we can earn more from it. In the past, we only plant banana trees and corn where we earn only about P500-P1,000 every 15 days as compared to cacao which can give us as much as P12,000 because the price per kilo is higher,” said 55-year old farmer Jessie Silva in the vernacular.
Jessie, a Board Member of SEBNAKA (Sinaka Eagle BagtokNapunanganKayupaton Association), the tribal council which represents the Manobo-Tinanong community said that although it takes 19 months before the cacao trees can bear fruit, they are already being taught by the Municipal Agriculture’s Office (MAO) about grafting which if done properly, can maximize the trees’ productivity. The Arakan local government units also provide livelihood training and capacity building to the farmers.
Jessie and the other farmers also need not worry about where to sell the cacao since there is already a guaranteed market for their produce.
“We’re not stopping at the provision of seed capital for agro-forestry because there are other component parts ofAFCDP that still needs private sector support such as increased access to livelihood and education. That’s why we are continuing with the Globe Arakan XC this year to raise additional funds to help with these undertakings,” said Fernando Esguerra, OIC, Globe Corporate Social Responsibility.
Slated on October 13, 2013, at least 200 bikers are expected to join the 60-km cross-country biking challenge from Davao City to Arakan Valley in North Cotabato to create awareness on the plight of the Philippine Eagle and the need to save its habitat.
Categories: philippine eagle