The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will provide P55 million to the Department of National Defense (DND) to finance the establishment of coffee and bamboo plantations covering some 4,000 hectares of land inside two military camps.
This forms part of the agreement entered into by the DENR and three other government agencies comprising the Aquino administration’s enhanced National Convergence Initiative (NCI) – the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – with the DND for the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP).
NCI is among the strategies of the present administration for poverty reduction by way of ensuring countryside development through the promotion of a framework of sustainable agriculture and rural progress.
“This signing is an excellent affirmation of NGP’s centrality to the core mandates of every key national agency like the DND,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, one of the signatories to the agreement, during simple rites held at the DND Social Hall at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last Monday.
Other signatories include Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson Palad and Local Government Assistant Secretary Rolando Acosta.
The agreement, dubbed as “DA, DAR, DENR and DILG National Convergence Initiative in Partnership with DND,” formalizes the inclusion of the national defense department in the implementation of the Aquino government’s flagship reforestation program.
NGP seeks to grow 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide within a period of six years ending in 2016. It aims to address poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Under NCI-DND accord, the DENR will provide a seed fund of P5 million intended to support the coffee plantation pilot project covering 200 hectares in Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon province. The DENR will also support the remaining 800 hectares that will comprise the 1,000-hectare coffee plantation.
The environment department will also release P50 million to the DND to fund the 3,000-hectare bamboo plantation project at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
Among its other responsibilities, the DENR will provide necessary technical assistance to ensure the success of the project, conduct regular monitoring and evaluation, and jointly identify with the DND suitable areas for development under the NGP, including vulnerable and hazard-prone areas within military reservations.
For its part, the DND will establish in selected military reservations nurseries and plantation sites for the production of quality food crops, seedlings and planting of native tree species.
For military reservations that can be developed into agricultural land, DA shall be the lead agency to boost farmers’ income and reduce poverty in the rural sector.
To protect the environment, DENR has the jurisdiction and mandate on the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources pursuant to Executive Order No. 192 and to select certain plant species that preserve the environment.
The DAR shall be the lead agency in providing central direction and coordination to the national agrarian reform program. #