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DENR taps public schools, barangays for greening

[ Malaya.com.ph ] May 30, 2011

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it secured the support of the public education sector as well as of barangays to kick off its National Greening Program.

In a statement, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the Department of Education has committed some five million students and faculty members to back up the program, while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has committed the support of all state universities and colleges, as well as private colleges within its system.

For its part, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has committed to mobilize officials and residents in 42,000 barangays nationwide for the effort.

Paje said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will also mobilize the personnel of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in all regions to support the greening efforts, particularly its biofertilizer requirements.

President Aquino tasked Paje to lead the greening program, which was established through Executive Order No. 26. Issued on February 24, the Palace directive would complement the prohibition of logging in natural and residual forests mandated by EO 23.

EO 26 also mandates the participation of 14 departments and government agencies, state universities and colleges, and local government units, as well as enjoins non-government organizations and people’s organizations to join the effort.

The Departments of Agriculture (DA) and of Agrarian Reform (DAR) also play key roles in the program as part of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI). The greening program aims to reforest 100,000 hectares this year, 200,000 hectares next year, and 300,000 hectares a year from 2013 to 2016 to complete its goal of reforesting a total of 1.5 million hectares.

The DENR chief said the program complements the DA’s goal of achieving food security and alleviating poverty, as it seeks to make 8 million hectares of degraded land productive in the long run.

“If for every hectare of land produces P10,000 per year, this would mean an additional income of P80 billion for rural families,” Paje said.
Since agrarian reform communities are located in or in the vicinity of forests, residents in these communities maintain close and mutually beneficial and protective relationship with forests, DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said.

“If we cannot protect our forests, we cannot protect our agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he said.

For his part, Alcala committed the DA to science-led sustainable agricultural technologies and development.

Citing the need for more irrigation facilities to enable farming, Alcala also underlined DA’s efforts to develop scientific organic farming in the countryside, reducing the costs of input to farmers and moving faster into sustainable natural methods.

Soil fertility and care being paramount, Alcala assigned BSWM to spearhead the organic development effort.
JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ
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