A guidebook designed to make upland farmers become effective entrepreneurs as well as responsible forest stewards was launched by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) Practitioners Congress held recently at the Fontana Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga.

Entitled, “Guidebook on ENR (environment and natural resources) Enterprises Development and Management”, the handbook provides a step-by-step guide in setting up, managing and sustaining small enterprises dependent on forest resources in the uplands.
The book launching was graced by DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore, Food and Agriculture Organization-Asia Pacific Region Senior Forestry Officer Patrick Durst and FAO Resident Representative Kazuyuki Tsurumi.

In leading the book launch, Paje underscored the mutual dependence between forest communities and the viability of the forests, noting that the guidebook is proof that “there is a link between economic activity and environmental protection.”

He also expressed confidence in the capability of people’s organizations to become effective managers of forest resources. “Providing our upland farmer leaders the opportunity to develop their capabilities to start-up, manage and sustain enterprise activities, I believe that our people’s organizations can become effective managers of our forest resources as well,” Paje said.

According to Forest Management Bureau Director Neria Andin, the handbook was a product of the 3-year project, Enhancing Natural Resource Management through Enterprise Development, which the bureau has implemented since 2008 with support from the New Zealand Air Program and the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO).

Andin said that under the project, eight pilot enterprise activities were implemented in selected Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) areas in the country that served as learning laboratories for the guidebook. These CFBM project sites include the duhat fruit wine making in Bugallon, Pangasinan; small-scale wood industry in Baggao, Cagayan; Roxas, Palawan; and in Catarman, Camiguin; coconut midrib handicraft in Limay, Bataan; abaca and bamboo processing and marketing project in Maasin, Iloilo; rattan furniture making in Capoocan, Leyte; and handicraft making using romblon and nito in San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

“These projects served as our learning laboratories to pilot test the guidebook to ensure that the step-by-step processes of selecting, planning, financing, implementing and sustaining the enterprises are understandable, realistic and doable by the intended target beneficiaries,” Andin explained.

Also included in the guidebook are ways to improve the knowledge and skills of the farmers in conducting market survey, product development, as well as establishing network and linkaging with other government agencies, local government units and financial institutions.

Development activities to ensure the sufficiency of supply of raw materials for their selected enterprises are also discussed in the guidebook.