Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bataan farmers bags UN award

Local farmers group bags award for forest restoration in Bataan

 CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- A local farmers group in Bataan received this year’s prestigious United Nations (UN) Edouard Saouma Award for Excellence for successfully implementing a low-cost forest restoration project in a forest village in Limay town, environment authorities announced recently.

Ricardo Calderon, executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon, said the 50-strong Alangan Farmers Producers Association, Inc. (AFPAI) received a plaque of recognition plus P75,000 cash from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, alongside two other people’s organizations implementing Community Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP), during the CBFM Practitioners Congress held recently at Clark Freeport here.

He said AFPAI successfully implemented a three-year Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) project over some 80 hectares of forests in the village of Alangan, which is one of only three pilot sites established nationwide in 2005.

“ANR is a cost-effective method of reforestation that nurtures and enhances forest tree wildlings already thriving in a forest area,” explained Calderon, adding that this technique has been useful in effectively implementing President Aquino’s National Greening Program (NGP) which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in six years.

The Edouard Saouma Award for Excellence was named after Edouard Victor Saouma, the Lebanese Director General of the UNFAO who served for three consecutive terms from 1976 to 1993, and who was remembered for his efforts to establish a technical cooperation program that provides small-scale and short-term assistance to national or regional institutions.

The award was received by AFPAI President Rogelio Aucena who said the money shall be used to expand the group’s coconut midrib weaving and bamboo handicrafts enterprise which now earns an average of P24,000 a month for each active member of his group.

Calderon said AFPAI’s handicrafts project has been prominently featured in the newly released “Revised Guidebook on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Community Enterprise Development and Management” published by the DENR Forest Management Bureau (FMB).

AFPAI’s coconut midrib and bamboo venture is a showcase for Limay’s “One Town, One Product”, with Aucena’s group doing the rounds for products display in malls and trade fairs, he added.

The two other recipients of the Edouard Saouma Award for Excellence are the San Miguel Association Resources Team of Bohol and the Balagunan Integrated Social Forestry Farmers Association of Davao del Norte.

The award-giving body was established in November 1993 and has since given recognition to groups which have implemented particularly successful projects funded by the UNFAO Technical Cooperation Program (TCP).