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PIA Press Release

Commentary: Massive greening project to counter effects of dry spell

By Henry S. Lagasca

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union (4 September) -- The Green Philippines Program is one topmost priority of the Arroyo administration that requires volunteers to plant not only forest tree species but also the so-called economic fruit trees.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture are coordinating other government agencies, the civil society including the media for a massive greening project, this time, to help counter the effects of the long dry spell on agricultural production in the future.

Regions under the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) and that includes Central and Northern Luzon and the Cordilleras underscore the need for this widescale greening project due to heavy production losses aggravated by a long dry spell.

As a start, the DENR already planted ornamental trees along the Philippine highways. Partnering with the environment agency is the DA which is also leading in the rehabilitation of drought-hit areas through the implementation of the Soil and Water Army for Resources Management (SWARM).

Project SWARM aims to plant one million trees in watershed and small water impounding dams by planting economic fruit trees like camachile, duhat, calamansi, and other citrus; vegetable trees such as caturay, malunggay, alucon, sampaloc and atsuete; bamboo, and lemon grass.

DA targeted priority SWARM areas within NLAQ to include the provinces of Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Isabela and Nueva Ecija. These areas cover a total of 2,243 hectares of watershed.

The Land Management Sector (LMS) of the DENR is tasked to identify idle public and private lands that might also be covered by the greening program to convert idle lands into production areas.

Some parts of North Luzon suffered agricultural losses owing to their vulnerability to seasonal dryness as a result of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

But much needs to be done to push for PGMA's policies to boost modernize agriculture and strengthen small and medium enterprises (SMEs), keep interest low for marginal farmers and fisherfolk as a means to intensify the growth of the economic base down to the barangays.

Ensuring community participation in the greening project related to dry spell will also help ensure the mobilization of the agricultural sector in particular, to help in the repair and maintenance of existing communal water systems, regulate water consumption in households and the dredging of heavily silted irrigation arteries. (PIA Region 1) [top]

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