Govt. brands coffee, cacao as ‘reforestation species’
QUEZON CITY, June 17 (PIA) — The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, through its National Greening Program, has now classified coffee and cacao as “reforestation species” in its efforts to plant 1.5 billion trees in some 1.5 million hectares by 2016.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Friday said their agency has opted to include the coffee plant (of the genus Coffea) and the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) in its massive reforestation program because government wanted not only to “plant and conserve trees,” but at the same time, “address the issues of poverty and food security as well,” especially for residents in the countryside.
Aside from the two bean-producing species, the DENR also added mango and durian to its list of trees suited for their convergence tree-planting campaign with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Agriculture (DA) to integrate the people, their economy, and their environment, Paje said during the special edition of the Communication and News Exchange (CNEX) Forum with members of media at the Philippine Information Agency in Quezon City.
“Dito po sa programang ito hindi na lamang mga punongkahoy ang itatanim natin. Pinayagan na po namin gamitin ang cacao, kape, mangga at durian as reforestation species,” he said.
The merging of the three departments is in line with the Enhanced National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development, which facilitates the three agencies pooling together their resources to maximize the impact on countryside development and sustainable agriculture.
Paje also said that all the earnings these fruit-bearing species would provide will go directly to the upland farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries involved in the program or, if planted in communities, the community will benefit from the harvest.
“Ang kita po rito ay hindi kukunin ng gobyerno kundi ibibigay namin sa mga benepisaryo ng programang ito,” Paje said.
Likewise, in order to maximize the beneficiaries’ profits, the environment chief said, the three partner agencies will help them put up cooperatives and provide them with needed support like postharvest facilities, as part of their convergence initiative.
Paje cited coffee growers initially getting support for processing, roasting, packaging, storage and blending techniques from government for the coffee they raised.
For this year, the DA reported allocating some P50 million for the rehabilitation of the Philippine coffee industry which is aimed at regaining the country’s status as one of the major coffee producers in the world.
Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics reveal that the Philippine demand for coffee, which was pegged at 65,000 metric tons in 2008, has increased to about 3 percent per annum since then.
Meanwhile, based on a recent study, coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the country and that the same is already an integral part of most Filipino’s morning ritual. (RJB/JCP-PIA NCR/PIA-MIMAROPA) (by Jerome Carlo R. Paunan)
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