The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has secured the support of more than 5-million students in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, along with officials and community leaders in 42,000 barangays, to kick off the National Greening Program (NGP).

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. 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.

Paje has been tasked by President Aquino to take the lead in the NGP, which was established through Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011 to complement the prohibition of logging in natural and residual forests through Executive Order No. 23.

NGP mandates the planting of some 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of denuded and marginal lands all over the country from 2011 to 2016.
EO 26 also mandates the participation of 14 departments and government agencies, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), local government units (LGUs) and enjoins non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations (POs) to join the effort.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) also play a key role in the program as part of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI). NGP targets 100,000 hectares for replanting in 2011; 200,000 hectares for 2012; and 300,000 hectares yearly from 2013 to 2016 to complete its goal of reforesting a total of 1.5 million hectares.

The DENR chief said the NGP is also an economic program since it complements the DA's goal of achieving food security and alleviating poverty. NGP actually 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,” Paje said, “this would mean an additional income of P80 billion for rural families annually.”

DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes noted that since agrarian reform communities (ARCs) are located in or in the vicinity of forests, he said residents in these communities maintain close and mutually beneficial and protective relationship with forests.

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

In his speech, read by Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC) president Marriz B. Agbon, Alcala lauded the NCI and committed the DA to science-led sustainable agricultural technologies and development.

“Malinaw ang mga direktang benepisyo: Bawas-insidente ng kahirapan at kagutuman sa mga dahop na komunidad sa kapatagan man o uplands, at katiyakan sa pambansang kasapatan sa pagkain,” Alcala explained.

Citing the need for more irrigation facilities to enable farming, Alcala also underlined DA 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.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has committed 5-million students and faculty members to back up NGP.

Grades 5 and 6 and high school students will be focused on the denuded areas planting effort, while elementary schools will support the nursery efforts.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has committed the support of all SUCs and 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.