A P120 million road and a P72 million RCDG bridge projects of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are bringing hope of easier market access for pineapple farmers of barangays Alimit, Langayan, and Banao of Ifugao province.

This is precisely the objective of DENR’s Forestland Management Project (FMP) – to make a success of upland farmers as entrepreneurs, according to Marlon Atienza, project manager of DENR’s FMP.

Consequently, the farmers become protectors of the watershed and the river basin of Ifugao— and abandon forest-degrading kaingin (slash and burn) practices.

“We are excited to see our project gradually but surely materialize on the ground.  This is what FMP means when we say ‘Agroforestry Support Facilities.’ The growers of these pineapples and other agroforestry products are strengthened,” said Atienza.

“Connectivity of their plantation to the market and other communities (is becoming possible).  The bridge will facilitate easy transport and marketing of the agroforestry goods and contribute to the increase in income of upland communities.”

As the FMP is about to end by 2022, Atienza said DENR has requested FMP’s funder, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for a one year extension.

“We need to complete activities on maintenance and protection of established plantations, construction of agroforestry support facilities, and implementation of the sustainability action plan.The request was made in view of the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic,” said Atienza.

FMP has been successful in achieving its objectives in its almost 10-year duration.

It has strengthened the management of 149 People’s Organizations (PO). It established 71,300 hectares of tree and agroforestry plantations.

Contractors of the P72M Reinforced Concrete Deck Girder (RCDG) bridge just held in the last week of May a “concrete pouring” ceremony for the bridge.  It is a go signal for its construction.

Another FMP project that will benefit the Peoples Organization (PO) of Alimit Langayan Banao Farmers Organization (ALBAFO) is the 3.867 kilometer Brgy. Montabiong Access Road.

Worth P48 million, it is now undergoing construction.     It will take 270 days to complete the access road.

“This road concreting will strengthen the connectivity between the Alimit West and Lagawe subwatersheds,” said Atienza.

The Brgy. Montabiong Access Road just also started construction with a groundbreaking ceremony last June 3, 2021.

Aside from ALBAFO, the immediate beneficiary of this access road is the PO Iphodan Di Alah Ad Montabiong Inc. (IDAMI) and DENR-Ifugao Field Implementing Units.

The FMP is a 10-year program up to 2022 aimed at strengthening forest management in three critical river basins— Upper Magat and Cagayan, Upper Pampanga, and Jalaur (Panay Island).

It is funded by JICA through a P4.708 billion loan component.

A highly-valued accomplishment of FMP is the increase in forest cover and a decrease in soil erosion).  However, these benefits have yet to be quantified based on science practices.

The pineapple-agroforestry  enterprise is funded too under FMP with a budget of P100,000.

FMP’s poverty reduction benefits to the grassroots have been so pronounced as it involved 149 POs within the identified 24 sub-watershed areas.

With farmer-training from FMP,  the upland dwellers have become more intensive growers of agroforestry products like timber (gmelina, mahogany and narra) and fruit trees (guyabano, cacao, mango).

They have expanded their farming and has reached new markets through FMP’s marketing assistance and promotion.

The total project investment cost is estimated at Php 5,870.64 million of which P1,162.26 million is shouldered by the Philippine government.

FMP has carried out  reforestation through collaborative and comprehensive Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) strategies.